When Bong Joon Ho descended from the airplane to step onto his home country’s soil, he wore no mask, while all that surrounded him did. A news reporter kneeled to him, holding a microphone to illuminate his voice. Paparazzi crowded around him, but respectfully kept their distance. There was a fear within them, a fear of God that kept them from touching the master director.
He wore no mask, and thanked everyone for the warm welcome, empathized with the reporter’s pain of having to kneel underneath him while holding a microphone. Bong Joon Ho was not afraid of the coronavirus. He created the ultimate Parasite.
He left South Korea a simple man trying to make his way in the universe. He returned a God.
But Bong Joon Ho had quite a bit of help along his path to Godhood. He studied from the masters, maestros across a myriad of genres, ethnicities, nationalities, and talents.
Here are 10 movies that influenced Bong Joon Ho that you should watch if you loved Parasite.
Another Bong Joon joint, “Snowpiercer” is a sci-fi epic that follows a world overtaken by global warming and failed attempts to stop climate change. The last survivors board The Snowpiercer, a train that perpetually travels around the world. As the train choo choo choos, a new class system sneaks its way aboard, causing conflict and mutiny; transforming The Snowpiercer from a merry (but slightly bleak) Thomas the Tank Engine into an evil Diesel!
Chris Evans stars as the perfect revolutionary, and the kinetic fight scenes rival that of Parasite’s climax!
Coupled with the fact that Bong Joon-Ho lied to Harvey Weinstein in order for certain scenes to be included in the final cut of the film, Snowpiercer might not be Bong Joon-Ho’s greatest, but it’s him at his most entertaining and exhilarating! (As well as one of the best sci-fi action/dystopian combinations to come out in recent years.)
9. The Servant
This is another movie Bong Joon Ho cited as one of “Parasite’s” direct influences. While he didn’t seem to have much to say about it (all he said was “The Servant” by Joseph Losey was another”) You can definitely see where he stole from.
“The Servant” serves its audience a chilling, psychological/pyschosexual, yet elegant tale of upper class man Tony, who hires the prim and proper Barrett as a servant. Barrett’s serviude rues up some unpleasant emotions in the house, causing tensions to escalate between Tony and his wife. And when Barrett’s sister comes to live in the household, well, having seen Parasite, you can probably guess what happens.
Depravity ensues, lies are told, drama crafts suspense, and all while The Servant tries to become master of the house. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? You can definitely see the seeds for characters Gook Moon-Gwang (The Housekeeper) and her husband Park Myung-hoon being sown in this film.
With beautiful, black and white cinematography and perfect, haunting shadows, “The Servant” is underrated masterwork by an unsung auteur. If you like Bong Joon-Ho, this is a must see.
8. This Man Must Die
“This Man Must Die” or “The Beast Must Die” depending on your country of origin is a tense psychological thrill ride that’s a perfect mix of thriller and personal drama. Charles Thenier’s little son is killed by a hit and run driver. The police investigation is useless, and Charles decides to be his own police force by cultivating a romance with the killer’s sister in law, Helene. He discovers the son in law to be an absolutely despicable person, but his feelings for Helene are genuine. Should he kill Paul, the man who slaughtered his son? How should he do it? And what of his love for Helene?
“This Man Must Die” is an epitaph about revenge and its nature. It boasts beautiful dialogue, actors and actresses, and it’s fun to see how it influenced one of “Parasite’s” themes of compassion. Because the Kim family does not show mercy to Park’s secret underground dwellers, tragedy strikes.
Jordan Peele did a fantastic job with “Get Out”, and crafted a film just as intense with “Us”.
Another 2019 film that deals with the poor vs the rich, “Us” tells the story of the U.S! Or at least a story of class and the American Dream. It follows Adelaide Wilson and her family returning to Adelaide’s beachy childhood home. Because of past trauma, Adelaide has a hunch that something terrible will occur, and it does when 4 mysterious, masked doppelgangers invade the house, forcing the Wilsons to fight for survival.
“Us” is perhaps the thematic American equivalent of “Parasite”, (But don’t get me wrong, “Parasite” is superior) both dealing with themes of class, national dreams, and accomplishing that with fantastic home invasion action scenes!
6. La Ceremonie
According to Bong Joon-Ho, the films of French cinema maestro Claude Chabrol also were a huge influence on Parasite, as well as the true crime case that inspired the film “La Ceremonie”. One of the greatest crime movies of all time, “La ceremonie” tells the story of a young, charming, (but also a bit clueless) woman named Sophie Bonhomme, who is hired as a housemaid in an isolated mansion belonging to the Lelievre family.
The family is made up of four members, complete with a son who is interested in the arts (except this time around he’s a cute teenager!) Sophie meets Jeanne, (played by Isabelle Huppert in one of the best performances of her career) as a postmistress who inspires bad feelings towards the Lelievres, and this results in some criminal consequences.
The rest of the film shouldn’t be revealed in this article. “La Ceremonie” is something that deserves to only be experienced on screen. It’s a beautiful blur with questions of murder, manipulation, and friendship, a film so powerful it displays an important fact beyond the film’s own murdering matters. It reminds us that cinema is a ceremony that must be performed with the utmost ritualistic, religious, reverence. Every time this writer watches it, he wishes he could be one with this film. He wishes that he could marry Jeanne, with her beautiful dominance. He wishes the ceremony would murder him.