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SYFY WIRE Parasite

Bong Joon-ho gets under your skin in unnerving trailer for Cannes winner Parasite

By Benjamin Bullard
Bong Joon ho Parasite movie via YouTube 2019

Though many of his projects continue to be available to English-speaking audiences either as trimmed-down edits or as subtitled versions of their Korean originals, Bong Joon-ho is staking out seldom-charted territory as one of those rare directors whose movies often can’t be defined by genre.

That definitely seems to be the case with Parasite, the upcoming comedy-thriller (or is it a fantasy-drama?) that runs a broad emotional and atmospheric gamut — even in the short 2-minute span of its new preview trailer. By turns funny, ominous, superstitious, and creepy, the overall thread that seems to run through the movie — which won the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival — is one of unnerving truths lurking just beneath the surface of each character’s awareness.

Check out the new trailer below, which freshly teases a much-buzzed story turn that veers a tale (about an impostor English tutor who’s punching far above his social status) toward something far deeper:

Parasite appears to wield its worldy-wise comedy as a disarming tool, chiseling away at viewers’ expectations until things begin to go disquietingly sideways. The lucky few who’ve already previewed Parasite appear to be in mad love with Bong’s David Lynch-like ability to conjure supernatural levels of anxiety from a kitchen sink’s worth of moods and tones — something the film’s promotional materials try to capture by describing it as a “pitch-black modern fairytale.”

On one side, there’s the Park family — “the picture of aspirational wealth,” as the notes tease. On the other is the Kim family — “rich in street smarts but not much else.” A service arrangement, based on a little fibbing by the Kims, leads them into the Parks’ world of affluence. But everything takes an unexpected turn when a “parasitic interloper threatens the Kims’ newfound comfort” in a way that neither side sees coming, unleashing a “savage, underhanded battle for dominance.”

Bong most recently grabbed and held Netflix fans’ attention with Okja, a fantastical adventure movie that also bent its share of genre rules. He jostled an eclectic cast of English-language talent in 2013 with Snowpiercer, which hewed more closely to conventional sci-fi themes. We’re trying not to spoil ourselves by reading ahead too much with Parasite, because we've learned that when Bong is in the director's chair, anything can happen. We’ll get the chance to find out when Parasite latches onto U.S. theater screens beginning Oct. 11.