Reflection 03: Bloody Basement
Please be advised: this piece contains the spoilers of the film, Parasite.
Ok, let’s talk about the Parasite. I’ve been avoiding conversations about this particular film. It does not make me proud. Having a strong opinion toward something is discomforting. As you might have noticed, yes, this is because I can’t say that I love it. Since this view has been offending so many people, silence was my best move. Some people received my reaction of a bitter and sour cinephile. Others regarded it as an artist’s tantrum, opposing a mainstream. Honestly, I was sad. The resistance was from the justifiable violence done by a middle-aged male. The term “for a greater good” cannot excuse violence. Especially in Northern East, so many spirits were silenced under the name of justice. I don’t believe in social development upon the sacrifice of marginalized people. Parasite is a story of a father and a son. Also, it is about the conflict between two men — one rich and the other poor. I can’t be happy about the movie. However, it is certainly well-made. The mise-en-scene is remarkable, and the acting was flawless. The film draws the audience into the narrative. It is full of symbols while avoiding being tacky. Parasite has almost everything to be an exceptional achievement. As a commercial film, I suspect the success behind it for allowing flexible interpretation, inclusive for the western viewers. My favorite is the use of space.
The set design is very clever. The higher level full of lights is for the wealthy. The place beyond the ground belongs to the poor. The housing environment is quite different in Korea compared to the western world. An isolated and spacious villa or a fancy apartment is an embodiment of money. Basement is where the poverty lies. One more, a rooftop trailer, but it was depicted romantically in the media too much. Even though basement apartment is common in New York City, for most of the western audience, it is not residential. Mostly, a basement is where ghosts live for them. The space is related to fear; it is an unknown and untouched place. These contrasting images fold into one in Parasite. In the film, this hidden basement turns the mood into a horror. The scene revealing the existence of an underground bunker was a key transition. I presume this would be familiar to western viewers. It is a traditional horror film grammar. At the same time, Korean viewers will acknowledge the social context. For me, this is a point where two cultural contexts are connected. Also, a space is an environment. The motif of smell resonates with it. Living conditions form residents. It is a highly effective device to put characters in, explain them, and change them.
Toward the end of the movie, the basement becomes a crime scene. It is where the violence starts and ends. Some people say trapping the father in there balances out the blood. They say it’s the desperation of the poor. Well, that despair killed the weaker ones. Later on, it becomes a vicious cycle of wrath or motivation to the only surviving son. It’s his mission. I wonder what the son would have thought while lying in the bloodbath, right in front of the basement door. He brought the rock to kill someone, and he got hit by it. I’ve also spent some time of my life in the basement. It is a curse. I’ve said so many times that I will be out of this bloody shithole. However, I never imagined my fate would get better with violence. While talking about the movie a while ago, a male audience told me that revolution sometimes requires blood. Again, it made me sad. Honestly, I don’t think the director would agree on this. But look. Satire often malfunctions. Anyway, I am living above ground now. Yes, there were struggles. Still, the experience was formative, and it might not go away. Despite all this, I hope Kiwoo would release himself and his father out in the sun.