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Parasite’s Criterion Collection cover has a perfect Easter egg

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Windows into the families at the center of the film

Choi Yeon-gyo/Mrs. Park (Cho Yeo-jong) raises her hand to her mouth in shock while walking upstairs in Parasite Photo: CJ Entertainment/Neon

The Criterion Collection edition of Parasite, the Oscar-winning masterpiece from Korean director Bong Joon Ho, will be released Oct. 27, Criterion announced Wednesday. The company is known for its definitive home video releases of acclaimed films from around the world, and in particular, for the striking cover artwork on those packages. Parasite will be no different, with an ingenious take on its now-iconic movie poster.

The one-sheet for Parasite features members of the two families at the center of the film, the Kims and the Parks, with black and white bars, respectively, over their eyes. The setting is the backyard of the Parks’ sleek, ultramodern home. The image doubled as the cover artwork for Universal Pictures’ home video releases of the movie on 4K Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and DVD earlier this year. And it’s also the basis for the Criterion Collection box art — except with a twist that’s a clever reference to one of the film’s own twists.

a two-panel image with the one-sheet movie poster for Parasite on the left and the Criterion Collection cover artwork on the right
The Parasite movie poster on the left, and the film’s Criterion Collection cover art on the right, which largely obscures the image.
Image: Neon, Criterion Collection via Polygon

Most of the Criterion artwork is white; it offers only tiny glimpses of the underlying image via 18 portholes, some of which are circular and some of which are rectangular. But they’re not mere windows into the Parks’ backyard. They’re actually dots and dashes grouped into eight lines — dots and dashes of Morse code that spell out the eight letters of “Parasite.”

[Warning: The following contains spoilers for Parasite.]

Those who have watched Parasite will remember that Morse code plays a key role in the film. Mrs. Park notices that the lights above the house’s entry staircase occasionally flicker, but doesn’t grasp that there’s an underlying pattern. It’s only her young son who realizes that the flickering lights are communications in Morse code — messages that, it is revealed later, are being sent by a man who is secretly living in the house’s subbasement bunker: Geun-sae, the husband of the Parks’ housekeeper. In the denouement following Parasite’s bloody climax, we learn that Ki-taek, the patriarch of the Kim family, has taken Geun-sae’s place as the fugitive hiding in the bunker. He learns Morse code from Geun-sae’s notes, and starts sending out his own message via the stairway lights, hoping that his son, Ki-woo, will somehow see it.

Even if you catch the Morse code on Parasite’s Criterion cover, you won’t understand why it’s there unless you’ve seen the film. The design is a great inside joke for Parasite fans, who, of course, are likely to be the primary audience for a Criterion Collection edition. It will be available in a two-disc Blu-ray set for $39.95 and a three-disc DVD set for $29.95. Both pressings come from a new director- and cinematographer-approved 4K digital master of Parasite, and the packages also include a black-and-white version of the film. For more details on the special features, check out the Parasite listing on Criterion’s website.

Clayton Ashley contributed to this story.