When Parasite director Bong Joon-Ho clinched the Best Picture Oscar back in March, could he have known that his biting social satire would become even more relevant still? It is unlikely, although not impossible given how the idea for the eccentric story was plucked from real life.
When he was in college Joon-Ho was a tutor for a wealthy family and would daydream about the idea of sneaking all his friends in to infiltrate the beautiful home. Like a quaint cabin in the middle of the dark woods, there is something irresistible about painting the picture of a sanctuary and then showing the darkness outside that is waiting at the door.
In Parasite, the beautiful, haunted house is a physical representation of the many rungs of the class system. This gleaming glass box for the rich is built upon the cramped basements of the poor which are hidden below the surface. Within this oasis the rich are able to treat their workers like ghosts, floating invisibly around vast rooms.
Parasite is the perfect Hallowe'en film for a year of gaping inequality and the rich claiming we're all in this together while Kim Kardashian jets off to a private island. The film presents a world of horrors that is already in front of us: one where the monsters are the super wealthy throwing extravagant parties for their spoilt children, and the creepy locations are the flooded houses and cramped gymnasiums turned into disaster relief shelters which the poor are condemned to.
It is wildly funny, too, but here the comedy feels linked to a creeping sense of dread. "Humour comes from anxiety," Joon-Ho said in a Vulture interview, the same profile which described the film as, "like a candy bar with a razor blade tucked inside".
Parasite has been labelled as both a comedy and horror film, and it is this trick-or-treat of emotions which make it the kind of cinematic experience which makes you laugh nervously before making your palms sweat and your heart thud. In 2020, nothing could be scarier than reality, and no film is a clearer mirror to our world of horrors than this one.
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