Parasite ★★★★½

Whenever films like this come along with such huge hype clouds surrounding them, it's often the case that I end up finding them at least the smallest bit disappointing, so I decided to check my expectations at the door and I'm glad I did, or I might have found it a bit of a letdown. I only say that so as to not add too much to the noise surrounding the film that is seemingly exclusively adoring, and not at all as an attempt to undermine the brilliance that is Parasite.

There's just so much to talk about here. The filmmaking is impeccable, the screenplay captivating, the performances phenomenal, the cinematography and colour correction gorgeous, the set design staggering (with central locations clearly explored and established from the get-go to enhance the overall experience), and the use of music inventive and riveting.

The world-building is also so well done. The pacing is excellent and the film never drags. It's laugh out loud funny at times, made me the most anxious I've been in a cinema (barring 1917, which is a different kind of tension entirely), potentially since Fallout, without ever resorting to either straight-up horror or action (which to be honest, from what I'd heard, I was half expecting it to do), and it handles the tonal shifts so subtly and efficaciously that you barely realise they've even happened.

Not only do Director Bong and his team manage all of the above, but they also bring an effectively biting satirical edge to the proceedings. There is a whole load of symbolism here and so much to unpack that it feels like with only one watch I'm barely scratching the surface of the themes they were going for. The ending was maybe slightly less amazing than everything which came before it on first viewing but I still think it's pretty effective.

One more quick point - I think the visual storytelling is so fantastic here and that this is such a great example of of a filmmaker going above and beyond to follow the "show, don't tell" rule that if you watched this without subtitles (particularly the first act), you'd still have a fairly good grasp of what was going on with the story. And I didn't even realise this till long after the film ended! It manages to be hugely impressive without being showy or calling attention to itself.

2019 really was a year, wasn't it.

The 'ghost' scene is perhaps one of the most horrifying images I've seen in a film in recent memory. While it turned out that there wasn't a literal monster living in the basement after all, the reality that there actually sort of was one all along, but that it was one formed by the class divide as well as the negligence and ignorance of the privileged Park family (and ironically, ended up being the thing that ultimately led to their own downfall) ... might be even more terrifying.

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