“Parasite”

Ringing bells are followed by a gong of a clock tower over a black screen, the sequence repeats over and over. Then abruptly is replaced by the view of a street from the inside of a shabby apartment in Seoul, South Korea. 

This is the home of the Kim family. Ki-woo, the son, scrambles around the apartment in search of a new Wi-Fi signal, after their main one (the neighbor’s) added a new password. 

“Did you try 1234567?” Ki-jeong asks her brother. 

“I did that already,” Ki-woo says.

“Try it backwards.” She continues. 

This is the beginning of the Korean-thriller, “Parasite.” Despite being a thriller, director Bong Joon-ho manages to intertwine slapstick humor with suspenseful plot twists. 

The Kim family receives a visit from Min-hyuk, a close friend, who gifts them a large “scholar rock.” Min-hyuk tells them the rock will bring wealth to the family. Over dinner Min-hyuk tells Ki-woo he is going to study abroad and asks him to take his role as an English tutor for a wealthy family. Hesitant, Ki-woo accepts the position. 

Ki-woo arrives for his interview at the lavish Park family home. He meets Yeon-gyo, the mother of the Park family. She judges him to be a good fit as the new english teacher for her daughter. After his interview, Ki-woo notices the crayon drawings, presumably by the Park’s younger son, hung on the main wall inside the kitchen. Acting as if he has curated art before he eyes the drawings up and down and attempts to flatter Yeon-gyo: 

“It’s a chimpanzee, right?” Ki-woo says.

“A self-portrait.” Yeon-gyo responds. 

Through Ki-woo’s charismatic charm, witty remarks and English prowess, Yeon-gyo hires him. Thanks to Ki-woo’s new job, the family has an in with the Parks. “Parasite” delves into several lessons that weave in and out of the central theme: privilege through classism. 

Each scene feels as though we are flipping through a family photo album, watching how the past has shaped the Kim’s present day realities. 

The Kim family coyly cons the Parks to terminate their staff and convinces them to replace the positions with their four family members. With each tactic executed to near perfection, the Kim’s carefully infiltrate their helpless host: the Park family. When the Park family goes on an impromptu camping trip, they celebrate their success together. But when the old housekeeper shows up unexpectedly, the plot takes an unexpected turn. 

Bong subtly lays out his foreshadowing in one of the last scenes in the film.

Wielding a toy tomahawk and dressed in a Native American war bonnet, father, Park Dong-ik, hides behind a bush in the backyard with his personal driver Ki-taek, the father of the Kim family. Dong-ik rallies Ki-taek to plan an “indian attack” as a surprise for his son’s birthday. Ki-taek’s disinterest grows more apparent through his facial expression. The weight of his own insecurities as a father to his own family is coming up short and his resentment toward the well-off Park family is finally at a boiling point. 

The pacing through the duration of the film brought a swift and concise string of events that carefully unfolded as the plot winded down. 

After a torrential downpour of rain, the Kim family finds their home completely flooded with all of their belongings submerged under water. As they find releif at a shelter overnight, Ki-woo asks his father about his plan had mentioned earlier in the film. 

“Ki-woo, you know what kind of plan never fails? No plan at all. No plan. You know why? If you make a plan, life never works out that way,” Ki-taek said. 

“Dad, I’m sorry… for everything,” Ki-woo ends the conversation. 

Joon-ho breaks down the father and son relationship in this dialogue. Ki-woo has grown up in a home where ideas are thrown together at the last minute, plans never set in stone, always flying by the seat of their pants at the next opportunity. This shifts the character of Ki-woo to think differently and critically. 

“Parasite” is riddled with metaphors but the gifted stone is the real catalyst for the Kim family’ s fate. The rock is the “real” parasite that attaches itself to Ki-woo, making him have the most influential and effective character arc out of the whole cast. 

Parasite leaves on soft notes of anticipation and hope as the last scene shows Ki-woo writing to his father, in the shabby Kim apartment, planning his next move. 

4.4 out of 5 stars. 

“Parasite” is playing now at Blue Jay Cinema located at 27315 N Bay Rd, Blue Jay. For more information visit www.bluejaycinema.com or call (909) 337-8404.