Panic on board. Someone is infiltrating your home, and clearly this person is out to harm you. This is the matrix ingredient of home invasiona prolific subgenre of horror cinema that has spawned several gems including a certain… Parasite.
Film crowned by Golden Palmthe César for best foreign film, the Oscar for best director (and so on), the 7th feature film by the unmissable Bong Joon-ho is obviously in the wake of this category. But by openly playing with its conventions by injecting a good dose of comedy. To the point of reinventing the genre? And why not !
Small (and large) home crimes
To write the script for what was to become the first non-English work to win the Oscar for best picture, Bong Joon-ho was inspired by the time when he was giving private lessons, by a French news item from the years 1930 involving the assassination of employers by their maids (Christine and Léa Papin) and a film: The servant (1960).
A flagship work of South Korean cinema, this gothic pearl tells the story of a bourgeois family whose regulated life is turned upside down by the arrival of a house helper with demonic ambitions. We are swimming right on the side of the long line of “domestic films” of the Korean peninsula. But also “home invasion” horror. A cinematographic scheme that Bong Joon-ho has largely copied. Wakeup call.
The invasion, step by step
The Ki-taek are poor. Very poor. So much so that in the opening scene they are alarmed at no longer being able to scratch the neighbor’s wifi (the “parasites”, already…). This unemployed family lives painfully by reassembling boxes of pizza at an industrial pace. So, inevitably, when the son is hired by a wealthy couple, the Parks, to give English lessons to their eldest daughter, it is what should be called “a golden opportunity”.
Pretending to have no blood ties, the Ki-Taek deploy treasures of ingenuity to infiltrate the staff (and therefore the house) of these wealthy people. Now the mother takes care of the stewardship, the cooking, the cleaning, the father drives Monsieur Park’s Mercedes. And that the sister, master subterfuge, turns into an art therapist trained in the United States freshly landed to treat the “trauma” of Cadet Park.
A revelation, and the farce stops dead
So far, everything is frankly funny. We laugh at the incredible candor of Mom Park, we have fun with the eviction so dramatic of the former governess (the scene of the bloody handkerchief with ketchup) – in short, we are delighted to see this penniless but tight-knit family venturing into this gigantic masquerade which could have been nothing less than the boulevard long-awaited towards the “high life”. Except that.
One evening when the Park family went camping to celebrate the youngest’s birthday, the Ki-taeks decide to go that far. Feet on the sofa, orgy of food, overpriced bottles strung up in big swigs. Pepouze. But here it is – ding, dong – the ex-governess disrupts the party by pressing like a madman on the doorbell. What does she want in the end, this woman with the curiously alarmed look? “Get something from the basement”. Good, okay. We let it be.
Still, it takes time. So much time that it becomes shady. So the Ki-taek take a look at what’s going on down there, and Parasite Sudden switch from lively comedy to horror. Chilling background music, narrow corridors with dim lights, disturbing offscreen… In the underground guts of the house Park has been living for years, hidden, a being that has become almost an animal. It is the husband of the ex-governess, whom she used to feed in secret.
Cocktail of genres for biting satire
A first unleashing of violence ensues between “parasites”, all living on the crampons of the Parks for the simple reason that the former are poor, and the latter rich. This illustration of a savage class struggle culminates in the final scene. A sumptuous birthday meal where these same “parasites” end up tearing themselves apart again – but above all destroying their “hosts”, thus depriving themselves of the possibility of surviving. Yes, if the animal on which the tick stuck dies, it dies too. Law of nature.
By brushing a scathing social satire on the contemporary explosion of inequality in South Korea, Boon Joon-ho has strayed from the conventional paths of “home invasion”. Parasite inserts humor where the gems of the genre relied more on sadistic violence (Funny GamesHaneke), the anguish of the offense (Panic RoomFincher) or even the nightmarish intrusion (UsJordan Peele).
Boon Joon-ho has concocted a masterful mix of genres (horror, thriller, comedy, etc.) to depict to what extremes the rigor of social determinism can be pushed. In the name of the principle of survival (without work, no bread) do we have the right to cheat, to steal? How far to go? This is the range of questions posed by Parasite whose elements of response sometimes amuse, sometimes startle with amazement. The series of the same name – which will not be a remake, but will an original story – led by Adam McKay and Boon Joon-ho, also be part of the “home invasion” tinged with black comedy? It’s a safe bet. And far be it from us to complain about it.
Still on the project side, the indefatigable South Korean director is planning a first animated film linked to the seabed, as well as a SF feature film on an astronaut sent… to colonize distant planets. Boon Joon-ho obviously hasn’t finished talking to us about leech-like looting, and intrusion into foreign lands. Hot Hot, “planet invasion” in sight!
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How did Parasite derail the horrific tradition of the “home invasion”?