15 Best Movies Like Parasite


Making history as the first foreign-language movie to take home the Best Picture award at the Oscars, Bong Joon-ho’s 2019 movie Parasite has had a huge cultural impact already and encouraged more people to engage with both world cinema as well as more left-field dramas and thrillers in general.

RELATED: 10 Horror Movies To Watch If You Love Parasite

Those film fans who loved the story and its execution, and want to see something just as unpredictable and expertly made, should make sure to check out some of the other brilliantly unpredictable movies like Parasite that are out there.

Updated on February 20th, 2022 by Mark Birrell: Movies like Parasite don’t exactly come around every week, or even every year. However, there are many examples of not only great Korean films but world cinema also that reflect the quality and themes shown in Parasite. Whether they’re from Hollywood or the other side of the globe, what the best movies like Parasite all have in common is their top-tier direction and flawlessly gripping stories.


Mother (2009)

● Available on Crackle, Vudu, Prime Video, and Tubi

While all of Bong Joon-ho’s filmography should be of interest to someone looking for movies like Parasite, his 2009 film, Mother, is of particular note. This is not only because of its unpredictable plot about an elderly woman trying to exonerate her son for the murder of a young girl but also because of its grounded look at working-class struggles in contemporary South Korea.

Like Parasite, the film expertly balances dark comedy, ethereal drama, and jolts of shocking violence. The work of the films’ shared cinematographer, Hong Kyung-pyo, also beautifully emphasizes the director’s most distinct characteristics throughout.

Good Time (2017)

● Available on Netflix

This gritty and emotional crime thriller from Josh and Benny Safdie follows Robert Pattinson’s would-be bank robber as he loses his developmentally disabled brother to the prison system after a botched job. He then begins a frantic mission to raise the money for his bail as quickly as humanly possible and through any means necessary.

Pattinson’s unwavering central performance, together with the equally boundless energy from the presentation and direction of the movie, means that the audience is never quite sure where Good Time is going to go next. It’s not an elegant crime movie like Parasite but the depths that the lead character is willing to stoop to in order to wriggle out of yet another inescapable situation make it equally ingenious.

Infernal Affairs (2002)


Starring Hong Kong movie giants Andy Lau and Tony Leung as two undercover informers on opposite sides of the police’s war on a triad boss, Infernal Affairs stunned audiences across the world with its twisting game of cat and mouse as each spy hunts for the other.

RELATED: 10 Best Movies Like Infernal Affairs (That Aren’t The Departed)

It’s one of a number of Asian modern classics remade in Hollywood in the 2000s but was thankfully among the more faithful and well-crafted, with the American version, The Departed, becoming the movie that finally earned master filmmaker Martin Scorsese his Oscar for Best Director. Bong Joon-Ho specifically singled Scorsese out as a major influence when he won his own Oscar for Best Director, so his endorsement should mean a lot to a Parasite fan.

Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time (2012)

● Available on Pluto TV and Tubi

A certifiable modern classic in the vein of Scorsese’s own gangster movie creations, Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time follows Choi Min-Sik’s low-level corrupt customs agent on a journey up through the criminal empires of Busan, South Korea in the 1980s and ’90s.

Similar to a modern crime epic like Breaking Bad, the story may seem cut and dried from the go but it always finds ways to keep the audience on tenterhooks as to how a scene is going to really end up. Like Parasite, the movie is also an entertainingly insightful look into social ladder-climbing through crime in a changing country, with the progression of the story and the mannerisms of the characters being hugely enriched by the idiosyncrasies of Korean culture.

Shoplifters (2018)

The family jumps into the water in Shoplifters

• Available on Hulu

A Tokyo family living in poverty shoplifts to survive with the kids being the crucial part of the process. Though Hirozaku Kore-eda’s Palme d’Or winning film is much more of an emotional drama than a crime thriller like Parasite, these scenes of the actual shoplifting routine are as nail-bitingly tense as any con that the Kim family pull off.

Shoplifters is a heartwrenching exploration of the concept of family that has developed in the face of the indifference of the modern world and hides just as satisfyingly shocking a third-act secret as Parasite does.

The Housemaid (1960)

Kim Jin-kyu and Lee Eun-shim by the window in The Housemaid (1960)

● Available on The Criterion Channel

Bong Joon-ho has stated numerous times that Kim Ki-young’s horror melodrama The Housemaid has been a huge influence on his overall voice as a filmmaker, as well as being a direct inspiration for Parasite.

The story may ostensibly seem like a conventional cautionary tale about the weak-willed husband of a burgeoning middle-class household being manipulated by a monstrous femme fatale. However, through sudden twists in the plot, the film exposes many of the deepest social anxieties being felt by a transforming Korea at the time. Im Sang-soo’s 2010 remake of the movie should also be of particular interest to Parasite fans, as it takes a much less sympathetic approach to the middle-class family in the social hierarchy, as Bong Joon-ho would do in Parasite.

A Hard Day (2014)

● Available on Vudu

Thrillers don’t come much more suspenseful than Kim Seong-Hun’s A Hard Day. The movie’s plot follows a corrupt cop dealing with his mother’s funeral and a sudden internal affairs raid on his office when he accidentally hits and kills a man with his car, with all of this only being the very beginning of his incredibly dark, funny, and grueling ordeal.

RELATED: 15 Best South Korean Thrillers Of The 2010s

Though certainly more of an action movie than a drama like Parasite, the story has its own unique tone and more than enough surprises to stun the most discerning of film fans.

Oldboy (2003)

Oh Dae Su Oldboy hitting hammer

Adapted from the manga of the same name, Park Chan-Wook’s iconic mystery thriller is a strange, bleak, beautiful, and totally enthralling movie experience that follows a man who’s imprisoned for 15 years without explanation only to be suddenly released and challenged to find out why by his elusive captor.

Along with the other two movies in the director’s so-called Vengeance Trilogy, Oldboy helped popularize the 21st-century Korean cinema boom in the West, eventually being remade to little fanfare a decade later. The original is essential viewing for fans who like Parasite‘s darkest and most violent bursts of energy, though it may push the limits of their taste for those things.

Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)

Characters in kind hearts and coronets (1949) in a store

● Available on Kanopy

Released just 2 weeks shy of exactly 70 years apart, on different sides of the globe, Kind Hearts and Coronets was–and still is–just as darkly funny and as insightful a story about social ladder-climbing by any means necessary as Parasite is now.

Following a deceptively genteel murderer, as he exacts an incredibly improbable plan to reclaim the upper-class title that he was denied due to the lowly status of his father, this Ealing comedy is both steeped in history and antiquated culture yet still feels decades ahead of its time even today.

The Handmaiden (2016)

The Haindmaiden 2016

● Available on Prime Video

Park Chan-wook’s period drama, The Handmaiden transposes the class structure of Victorian Britain for Korea under Japanese rule in this adaptation of Sarah Waters’ novel Fingersmith and the tale is no less of a shocking and beguiling ride than any of the movies in the Vengeance Trilogy.

Centering on an elaborate con involving various layers of seduction and then-taboo desires, the ever-changing plot all fits together in the end as part of the film’s satisfying puzzle. Besides the plot involving lower-status characters infiltrating and manipulating a high-class household, Parasite fans will be sucked in by Chung Chung-hoon’s gorgeous cinematography.

The Chaser (2008)

the chaser south korean movie 2008 chase scene on the steps

● Available on AMC+

A former detective turned pimp tracks a man who he believes is kidnapping and trafficking his sex workers when, in reality, he’s hunting a diabolical serial killer in this thriller from director Na Hong-jin. The amorality of the main character makes The Chaser a darkly unpredictable race against time and its despicable villain keeps the mood set to nerve-shredding.

It’s a much more consistently violent and bloody thriller than most other modern Korean movies like Parasite but its similarly grim sense of humor will be familiar to fans of Bong Joon-ho’s films, and Na Hong-jin is counted alongside him as one of the most respected Korean directors working today.

The Fool (2014)

• Available to rent on AppleTV

Yuri Bykov’s drama follows a young plumber who’s called out to inspect a damaged pipe in a rundown housing block. When he arrives, however, he discovers that the dilapidated building could collapse at any moment onto its hundreds of occupants.

RELATED: 10 Drama Movie Masterpieces From The 2010s (That You’ve Probably Never Heard Of)

In keeping with the Russian director’s running theme of no good deed going unpunished in modern life, the main character’s discovery only serves to reveal far more serious structural damage within the morality of his local government and the building becomes the least of anybody’s problems. Like ParasiteThe Fool is a gripping story about the cascading calamities caused by class inequality in modern life.

The Last Seduction (1994)

● Available on Tubi and Vudu

One of the more original examples of the neo-noir genre, The Last Seduction ditches any semblance of morality and focuses entirely on having fun making it a must-see for fans of the pitch-black humor seen in crime movies like Parasite.

Linda Fiorentino creates an ice-cold femme fatale for the ages with her lead character as she dodges the attacks of her husband–who she stole $700,000 of drug money from–and manipulates a smalltown wannabe into helping her realize her devilishly perfect master plan.

Burning (2018)

Yoo ah-in and Steven Yeun talking in Burning (2018)

● Available on Pluto TV, Tubi, Viki, Prime Video, and Vudu

A huge precursor to the global recognition of Parasite, the mystery drama Burning gained widespread acclaim for its masterful execution of an ambiguous narrative that incorporated complex themes about class structure.

Adapted from a short story by Haruki Murakami, the plot revolves around one man’s obsession with a missing girl and the mysteriously wealthy socialite that she introduced him to shortly before her disappearance. The class struggles at the heart of the film are a bit more under the surface than the ones presented in Parasite but they’re no less affecting, and the cinematography of the films’ shared director of photography, Hong Kyung-pyo, is as equally arresting.

House of Games (1987)

● Available on Prime Video

Another underrated neo-noir masterpiece, David Mamet’s con artist movie sounds like one of the writer/director’s plays with its intensely specific dialogue but has all the meticulous good looks of classic Hollywood filmmaking.

A simultaneously straight-talking and deceptive thrill, the story follows a successful psychiatrist who becomes fascinated by a group of confidence men and follows her impulses into their seedy world. Those who were captivated by Parasite‘s dissection of the methods of the long con should be sucked right into this story.

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