Parasyte: Part 2 (2015)
Nicholas Driscoll
March 14, 2016
Note: review may contain spoilers

The first Parasyte film from 2014 was one of the better films I saw last year—Shota Sometani’s turn as alien-afflicted Shinichi impressed me, as did the wild morphing monsters and intense gore-fueled action. I was pretty excited to catch the sequel in theaters last year to see how it tied up any loose tentacles left over from the original—and, while the sequel sure has some eek-creepy moments and fascinating ideas up its monstrous sleeve, by the end you may feel the movie acts as a parasite itself—surviving by sucking the life out of better movies and manga, and leaving a somewhat lifeless core by the end.

Well, let’s have a quick rundown of the plot. Shinichi and his alien talking hand parasite, Migi, are now hunting the other, human-munching aliens who are hiding amongst the populace. The police also get in on the parasite-hunting party when they team up with a serial murderer who can recognize alien-infected human beings. Well, the parasite aliens don’t appreciate being exterminated, and pretty soon a super parasite appears to face off against the police head-on and hunt down Shinichi. Shinichi is caught in the middle of the chaos, and, if that isn’t enough, he also must deal with an inner struggle as his humanity continues leach away and be replaced by an unemotional utilitarianism—the alien mind seems to be replacing his own!

The second Parasyte film in many ways continues many of the strengths of the original, maintaining much of the lethal, horrific tone of the first film, and adding in new, knife-twists like the serial killer who can identify aliens, thus exploring the dark side of humanity with the sinister question—are we really better than the aliens? Meanwhile, Ryoko Tamiya, the alien mother who raises a human child she herself bore from the first film, continues to realize what it means to be human by experiencing compassion for the first time—and I for one was quite moved by her character arc. Just as before, most of the acting, too, is quite good—I still love Sometani as Shinichi and Eri Fukatsu as Tamiya, and Asano Tadanobu turns in a menacing performance as the heavy, Goto.

I also really enjoyed the music of the second Parasyte film. I think when I saw the first film on the airplane to Japan I really couldn’t appreciate the dark, seething themes—it’s hard to enjoy the aural experience on an economy flight to Japan. Sitting in the movie theater, though, the moody music by Naoki Sato fit the movie perfectly, tingling the heart strings with an oppressive wall of sound.

Still… the second movie isn’t anywhere near as good as the first. Some reviewers complained about the frequent long philosophical speeches, but they didn’t bother me (I was watching in raw Japanese and didn’t quite understand them anyway), but plenty of other aspects of the film did weaken the experience, especially in the case of the story. It’s hard to explain without going into major spoilers, but suffice it to say that about at the midpoint the plot basically goes off the rails. Not much makes sense towards the end, from a ridiculous sex scene (hey, your arm was cut off? Sex time!), to a seriously anti-climactic and overly convenient conclusion to the final fight with Goto, to an incredibly out-of-left-field (and stupid) ending. The last half blithely dissects and dismantles much of the goodwill developed in the first half of the film.

Ah, but what an interesting pair of films! I appreciate the Parasyte films for what they attempted, for their freakish designs, and for their earnest acting and tone. There is much to complain about the plot, but much to appreciate. For creature feature fans, this is a lesser, but still enjoyable, creeper.