Spoiler Room: Parasite
Whether it’s due to a unique plot twist or some controversial subject matter that deserves further exploration, the Spoiler Room provides a place for our authors, and you readers, to discuss a film’s details outside of our regular spoiler-free reviews.
In my review of Parasite, I described the finale as lackluster, and honestly that may have been generous. For most of its runtime, the film’s narrative is tightly-wound, building to inevitable destruction, but the climax at Da-song’s birthday party borders on absurd. Ki-woo, the Kim family’s son, is bludgeoned with rock (twice) and somehow survives despite the immense amount of blood pouring from his head, though his sister dies shortly thereafter from a stab wound to the chest. After witnessing two murders, one of which comically(?) involves a meat skewer, the Park family patriarch takes a moment to recoil from the “poor man smell” which triggers Ki-taek, the Kim family patriarch, to stab him to death.
Granted, the film does set up Mr. Park’s revulsion with the “smell” of Ki-taek, but that’s a ridiculous motivation to drive Ki-taek to kill. It reminded me of Curb Your Enthusiasm, where each episode ends in the outlandish, exaggerated culmination of many tiny details. Then comes the lengthy epilogue which jarringly uses voiceover for the first time in the film. Unsure whether his audience will pick up on the obvious, Bong Joon-ho spells out exactly where Ki-taek hides and how he survives seclusion. Admittedly, I liked the final bittersweet moment of hope dashed by reality, but the road to get there was too contrived.
What did you think of Parasite’s ending and the film in general? Was it Bong Joon-ho’s masterpiece? Ambitious, but flawed? A complete mess? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
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With Ki-Taek’s stabbing of Mr. Park I was under the impression that the decision was taken from a place that was less thoughtful of what the narrative had built up to that point and much more focused around the larger analogy the film had built around itself, especially with the ‘smell’ of the entire Kim family.
Granted, I still think the moment was somewhat earned (even if it felt less like the final domino of the disastrous chain events that precededed it and more like a leap, I liked it), though I do completely agree with regards to the epilogue, felt almost like a cop-out since Bong seemed to have been so trusting of his audience prior to that point.
It definitely makes thematic sense, I just can’t get past the implausibility of Ki-Taek murdering in that moment. It just seems totally out of character with them being a family essentially of improvisational grifters. Maybe if they had built up his resentment for Mr. Park more, but that disdain being solely relegated to the smell, then culminating in murder, inevitably leading to exile from his family, it just doesn’t work for me, sadly.
Yeah I get that, the insanity of the film’s finale, for as thrilling as it was, kind of worked to its detriment for me personally. I’m really interested to see how it fares on rewatch, since so much of the film is reliant on its audience knowing as little as possible, I feel like once looked past the shock of some of the bigger moments their impact might be lost knowing what’s about to occur.
I feel like Ki-Taek actually killed Mr Park because he was so repulsed at who he was and what he thought of Ki-Taek and those that are of his social status, that he was already forcing himself to be around him. Once he saw the man could care less about his daughter who was literally stabbed and dying, I feel like that sent him over the edge. It was also just like an explosive culmination of the film’s overarching theme, the lower class destroying each other and turning on the upper class. That’s what I got from it at least. I didn’t like the epilogue though, however the morse code thing was clever, and I wish it somehow just ended with that so we knew how he survived.
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I like that idea, I just wish his disgust with Mr. Park had been built up a bit more. Definitely agree about the epilogue. Ending just with the light flickering would have been great.
I fully agree the climax becomes driven more by its thematic subtext than the character motivations that had been built up throughout. As far as the rock bashing, I have some thoughts on that, but I’d almost need to rewatch the film again before discussing it too thoroughly. I, too, was struck (heh) by how implausible that moment felt, but given the reality/unreality of the final moments of the film, I think there may be something to that.
I do agree the climactic birthday party feels like a small hiccup, particularly following the INSANE thirty minutes that precipitated it. Everything that happens from the moment the family discovers the house shelter to them sleeping in the storm shelter is flawless, thrilling filmmaking to me.
I’m inclined to agree with that final point. I tend to put a lot of weight on a film’s ending – a bad aftertaste lingers with me – but even for as much as I disliked the conclusion, it can’t spoil how fun and thrilling I thought the rest was.
For as much as I do like the ending (I think the whole thing fits together in a lovely thematic bow, with the epilogue completing the film into the Hero’s Journey mold in an interesting way), that there was a part of me that was tempted to read it as Ki-woo’s dying fantasy or something like that says something about how there feels like a step missing between the first two acts and the third. It’s not a big enough jump for me to feel like it’s unearned, and I think it only shows because of how perfectly everything else is written.
Yeah, I assumed there was some “all in his coma/death head” read on the epilogue floating around. Not a major fan of that, mostly because it damages the film’s thematic core you’re speaking to.
Yeah, I’ve never been a fan of that sort of thing, and although I don’t think the possibility of it should be held against the film, it is a bit disconcerting that that’s even in the realm of possibility.