“Parasite” is full of surprises.

Just as you settle in, thinking you’re watching a comedy, wham! plot twist! You’re suddenly plunged into the depths of the deepest drama. Then, as you begin to get comfortable with your lot, and foolishly thinking it’s going to be like this ‘til the end, the movie hits you with a full dose of terror to really put the icing on the cake. Another plot twist in a movie you don’t really expect anything in particular from, but which soon becomes an endless journey into madness. An ingenious 3 in 1 that makes you laugh, cry and even grip the armrest in tension. You might take your seat in the theatre knowing it’s a South-Korean production, winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, but when you’re leaving, the feeling is that you have indeed been witness to something quite wonderful.

“I’m a sadist. I like audiences to suffer while enjoying themselves, to laugh even though they know it’s wrong to do so. In addition, real life is neither tragedy nor comedy, but a combination of the two. As such, my movies are the same.” Bong Joon-ho in El Periodico

Director, Bong Joon-ho, takes you by the hand on a journey inside the life of a poor household who ingratiate themselves with a wealthy family through ingenuity to get ahead. They live in a house where there are more bedbugs than humans. Their day to day is folding pizza boxes to earn enough to eat. That is, until Lady Luck smiles upon them and suddenly, things start going their way. Mother, father, brother and sister, more united than ever, emerge from a hand-to-mouth existence and begin a new life side-by-side with a wealthy family. Each family-member has their own marked personality; the son, the leader of the ‘gang’, the daughter, the creative designer behind the plan, the father, who becomes masterful at the art of deception, and the mother, who transforms her bitter character into that of a charming and caring housewife. After all, they are part of the family.

People with money consider the poor parasites, particularly in Korea, where the word ‘poor’ has negative connotations, because it’s associated with contempt and humiliation” Bong Joon-ho in the ABC

In between laughter and the occasional tear, the message slowly but surely gets across; social inequalities, classes, unfair distribution of wealth, injustice, parasites (those excluded from the system); those who have nothing versus those who have everything. A family struggling to get by against another that lives on appearance, ostentation, prejudice. A wealthy family that hires the poor to do the jobs they’d rather not get their hands dirty with; carrying the shopping home, making food, cleaning, helping their children study… This is a reflection of the cross which in reality many have to bear, those who despite having talent and skills, simply don’t avail of the resources or opportunities to get ahead, and who are punished simply for being born on the wrong side of the tracks.

Bárbara Padilla: Collaborator in the Series section of La Vanguardia. News editor and presenter on RAC1. Barcelona-based journalist since 2007. An amateur movie buff since she was old enough to know right from wrong and of series since the Netflix boom.