Movie Review: Parasite

Spoiler Alert: This review contains spoilers from this film

By Sofia Santelices

Parasite is considered a thriller masterpiece from 2019. Since it was just released on Hulu on April 8 (currently the only platform streaming the movie), subscribers can now watch the Oscar-winning film.

I have an immense soft spot for genres that are designed to keep the audience on the edge of their seats: horror, psychological thrill, suspense, mystery. One could say that all of these genres are compacted into Parasite with a touch of dark comedy. 

The film begins with the Kim family, seen to live in a penniless condition in which it’s a constant struggle to reach simple luxury. We can see this in the basement-apartment styled complex where they call home, and even in their occupation of folding pizza boxes all day. An opportunity one day presents itself where Ki-woo, the son of the Kim family, is offered a job as an English tutor for the Park family, an extremely wealthy family. He quickly gains the approval of Mrs. Park, and is prompt to recommend an art therapist to aid in the behavior of the Park’s youngest son Da-song. Although Ki-woo forgets to mention a small detail, his sister is the “art therapist”. He also forged his college diploma, but that’s just a minor technicality.

This is when the plot begins to escalate. 

After Mrs. Park hires a “certified” English tutor, and an art therapist, the Kim siblings frame the Park’s chauffeur, resulting in the termination of his job. Ki-jung, the daughter of the Kim family who poses as the therapist, suggests an adequate chauffeur to drive Mr. Park around. And once again, a small detail is failed to be mentioned: the chauffeur is Ki-taek, the father of the Kim family. The family sets up an elaborate plan to get the caretaker of the house fired, but not in the way one would expect. They constantly send the current house caretaker on trips to the hospital by giving her constant allergic reactions, and then claims to the Parks that their caretaker has tuberculosis. The caretaker is sent on leave, and is replaced by Chung-sook, the mother in the Kim family. 

The film continues on to unfold little and bigger details that aid in setting up the fate of the Kim family. 

I recommend watching the film and won’t spoil the ending in this article. But here’s a hint: karma is a strong belief in Asian cultures, or at least my culture. After one-third of the film, after the Kim family pursues their plan in gaining their occupations, the tension and anticipation of the film dropped. A lot of western horror films use jump-scares, gore, or dramatized and unrealistic events to keep the reader on edge. Gore is shared in between the two mediums. Most Asian horror films are the complete opposite. Asian horror films are mostly psychological thrillers in which various tactics are used such as: throwing off the audience by using weird or disgusting situations, realistic and relatable themes, and a game of chase between a host and a victim. I think I’m used to seeing Asian psychological thrillers, or films set up on the same premises as this film, which is why my expectation was not reached. 

I really liked how organized the film was in the pacing and the unfolding of events. It wasn’t rushed. The audience had enough details, puzzle pieces, and time to soak in the events. I like how Parasite made a lot of scenes throughout the film realistic. Maybe the ending was a bit dramatized but compared to a man in a mask killing off everyone as an omnipotent creature, this is more realistic. Two themes I grabbed from the story were: greed and karma. And those two themes are the most realistic aspects you can get from the film, which I find the most terrifying aspect even compared to the violent rampage at the end of the film. 

I think Parasite is exceptional, yet I also think it’s overrated.