An edge-of-the-seat experience is what Bong Joon-ho's Parasite is. The film refuses to be pigeon-holed into any genre, but makes astute observations about a Korean society deeply fractured in economic and social terms. The contrasts are not spelled out for us in literal terms, but we are guided through with the tropes of smells, water, the scholar's rock, staircases, the design of living spaces and communities, access to and use of the English language, and jibes at North Korea. It is a griping watch from start to finish, where one is drawn in because of the Hitchcockian quality of cinematography and a screenplay that creates the beautiful tension necessary to drive the narrative.
We meet the Kim family at a time when they are trying to leech off their neighbour's wi-fi connection, immediately telling us who the film is going to be about. They live in a semi-basement, are skillful but concerned with making the most of any circumstances via questionable ethics. When the opportunity arrives for one of them to crossover the social divide to be employed by the affluent Park family, they take the whole family along, setting off a thrilling and entertaining charade.
But Bong Joon-ho's films are never what they seem to be. Not for nothing is he called the trickster god of Korean cinema. Halfway through the film, we begin to question who the parasites are; the Kims, who obviously have been deprived of access because of which they have taken to finding easy ways out of everywhere, or the Parks, who have abused their privileges to snatch away all the opportunities and now abuse those in the name of stature. We realise that somewhere along the line, our loyalties have shifted and our sympathies now lie with the Kims rather than the Parks, who we initially thought were being exploited and tricked.
It is not a typically bloody film, but the anger and potential for violence within these characters keeps us wondering when it'll spill over, and is enough to make the bile rise in your throat when it does. This one refuses to leave your mind long after you've watched it.
Parasite is available to stream on Amazon Prime.