PARASITE

Cert 15 Stars 5

Winner of 2 BAFTAs and nominated for 6 Oscars, this extraordinary South Korean dark comedy thriller by director Bong Joon-ho is a bleak, bloodily violent and thought-provoking satirical modern day fable.

It sees a shameless and charismatic family of con-artists swindle their way into the employ of an upper class home where they plot the overthrow of the lawful inhabitants.

As the collision of unthinking privilege and the desperately needy erupts in violent farce, it comments on the smell of poverty, the corrupting Western influence on the Far East, and genocide.

Very much in keeping with Joon-ho’s previous films, the eco-fable Okja, and sci-fi train thriller, Snowpiercer, it’s also a distant cousin to last years period black comedy and Oscar winner, The Favourite.

Parasite is hugely moral, strangely moving, constantly surprising and full of arresting images, not least of someone smoking a cigarette in the middle of a flood while trying to hold down the seat of a toilet as it vomits effluent. As one character is fond of crying, ‘it’s all metaphorical!’

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UNDERWATER

Cert 15 Stars 3

Kristen Stewart is in deep water and under enormous pressure in this claustrophobic survival sci-fi horror which left me gasping for air.

The Twilight star is typically terrific as an engineer seven miles down in an ocean bed oil drilling station, which suffers mysterious tremors leading to a catastrophic collapse and leaving most of the crew dead.

Vincent Cassel’s noble captain attempts to lead his five remaining crew on a desperate bid for safety across the sea floor to a sister platform and its precious escape pods, but as morale and oxygen run low, they face even more monstrous terrors.

Refreshingly the script is angled more towards a conspiracy theory than an eco-message, and the faint residue of philosophical musings are washed away by a welter of crowd-pleasing blockbuster thrills.

Uncharitably described by a co-star as a ‘flat-chested elfin creature’, Stewart anchors the action with a gutsy physical performance, the latest left turn in a career marked by its impressive range and constant evolution.