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The Train to Busan Director Just Made the Grisliest Alien Invasion Show on Netflix

A deeply human story in an increasingly alien world.

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If sci-fi media is anything to go off of, alien invasions can take any form, from the obvious to the silent, and everywhere in between. But once the alien species have found a way to live among us, how are you supposed to tell who is who? There are plenty of examples of stories that use this paranoia to stoke tensions and tell allegorical stories about loyalties, but nowadays that can often come off as derivative.

But Netflix just released a new Korean manga adaptation that tells a new kind of alien invasion story: one that isn’t just an invasion of Earth, but an invasion of someone’s entire personhood.

Directed and co-written by Train to Busan director Yeon Sang-ho, Parasyte: The Grey isn’t so much an adaptation of the Japanese manga series Parasyte as much as it is a spinoff. The series tells the story of another character living in the same invasion of parasitic creatures that live on and kill humans — while turning them into terrifying eldritch monsters. In Parasyte: The Grey, Jeong Su-in (Jeon So-nee) is a young woman trying to rebuild her life after a traumatic past. She goes to an EDM concert, and two very bad things happen to her: she gets stabbed, and then an alien larva infects her.

Thankfully, the two kind of cancel each other out. Because the “host” is damaged, the parasite focuses on healing her and keeping her alive, but because of that, it’s not able to fully take over her body. Su-in quickly learns that while the other infected are mindless soulless pod people, she’s able to keep her personality while the parasite (lovingly dubbed Heidi, like a female Hyde) takes over while she sleeps.

The manga series is known for its grotesque body horror, and the series delivers this in spades. This parasitic alien is able to control the skull and cranial muscles to morph into tentacles, sharp blades, and even wings. Su-in, when possessed by Heidi, can only use the right side of her face, but the juxtaposition of the human and alien is almost creepier than the other infected characters who can go full Demogorgon.

The parasite invasion makes itself known through manipulating the heads of its host into strange tentacles.


But no alien invasion is complete without someone trying to stop it, and in this case that comes in the form of Choi Jun-kyung ( Lee Jung-hyun), a police detective with a history in psychological profiling. With the help of her “hunting dog,” her husband who now acts as a captive infected, she and her Grey Team will stop at nothing to stop the invasion, including killing Su-in.

Parasyte: The Grey is a different kind of alien invasion story. Instead of focusing on suspicion, the focus is on the strangely symbiotic relationship between the partial parasite and host. Su-in and Heidi are on opposite sides of an Earth-wide conflict, but without one, the other would surely die. Heidi says she is dedicated to keeping Su-in safe, and Su-in, caught up in a world of intrigue she would have never known about previously, needs that protection.

Half Jekyll and Hyde and half alien invasion, Parasyte: the Grey is all about existing in the murky spectrum where nothing is black and white. In fact, you could say it’s grey.

Parasyte: The Grey is now streaming on Netflix.

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