Opinion: Parasite movie offers universal appeal, something to say


Bong Joon-Ho's newest movie, Parasite, is in theaters now. Photo of movie poster by Abi Wilson '20.

Abi Wilson '20, Graphics Manager

Parasite is the South Korean movie you’ve heard people talking about all over the internet. I don’t usually listen to what my Twitter timeline says about movies, but I kept seeing this movie everywhere. So I had to know why people were praising this movie so much, and why a foriegn film had gained such momentum with American audiences.
I looked up the trailer online and it looked like a thriller like the director Bong Joon-Ho’s other popular movie, Snowpiercer. The general premise is that a jobless family uses their intelligence and cunning to get employed at a very wealthy family’s house. After seeing the praise that the movie received for its dark tone and unexpected story, I got really excited. I heard people praise both its comedy and horror elements, and I couldn’t wait to see what some were calling a perfect film.
But the film was not what I imagined.
I expected a thriller or horror movie with a clearly-defined “bad guy” who the protagonists had to outsmart, but Parasite isn’t that clean-cut. Let’s get the biggest questions out of the way first; yes, the movie is entirely in Korean with English subtitles. I wasn’t bothered by this at all, and my friends who weren’t interested in the movie didn’t mind either, so don’t let that scare you away from the film. Also, this movie isn’t an easy-watching “let’s just go see a movie” type of experience. If you’re expecting a movie like Frozen 2, it’s not Frozen 2. But if you saw the trailer, won’t mind a foreign film in a different language and were interested in any way by it, then the movie is worth seeing.
I didn’t think it was an amazing, perfect film that changed my perspective on life like some people I saw online, but I did enjoy the movie. It has a lot to say about wealth and privilege and has really strong anti-capitalist themes. It’s also weird and uncomfortable to watch, and some of the humor is lost when you read the subtitles too fast or slow. I heard this movie was nearly perfect, but I don’t agree. I loved the cinematography, despite how nerdy of a topic that is, the movie has really amazing shots that highlight the differences in the environment of the two families of the film.
The movie plays heavily with the actual levels between the two families. The poorer family lives in a semi-basement house and have to walk really far upwards to get to the richer family’s house. This divide is introduced early in the movie, but it unfolds when the rain floods and ruins the poorer family’s house while the richer family thinks the rain is beautiful.
Parasite’s ability to convey complex messages about class and poverty without dialogue or much music (the movie is eerily vacant of background music), is what gives the film a universal appeal. I can’t speak Korean and I’ve never been to South Korea, but I could still understand what the characters were going through. The twist to the film didn’t blow me away and I was disappointed by the slow-pacing, but isn’t really a thriller. It’s not really a comedy either and I actually liked that. The movie doesn’t neatly fit into a genre and doesn’t fit any of its characters into neat good guy and bad guy boxes. It treats its subject matter and message with respect, and doesn’t dilute it into something more palatable.
Parasite is weird. It’s not what I’m used to and it was not what I wanted to see, but I still enjoyed it. Parasite is not your typical movie, but if you want to see a movie that has something to say and looks beautiful while doing it, I recommend you watch it.