Monstrum is a 2018 South Korean period action film directed by Heo Jong-ho.
The movie stars Kim Myung-min, Kim In-kwon, Lee Hye-ri and Choi Woo-shik.
1527: A reign a plague is spreading in Joseon and rumours are rife that a mysterious vicious creature called “Monstrum” is roaming around the country. Yoon Gyeom is a loyal subject of King Jungjong. He struggles to fight against a monster that threatens King Jung Jong’s life and a group of people trying to depose King Jung Jong…
Monstrum is a better film all-around simply because you don’t imagine that the filmmakers secretly – or not so secretly – think that they are rather above this sort of thing.
This 2018 Korean film is a mix of period action and monster movie that plays with the idea that a population can be controlled – and political power gained – by convincing people that there is a terrible threat facing them that only their leaders can save them from. However, before the conspiracy theorists start nodding their heads in agreement, the twist here is that the threat is actually real – Monstrum really does exist, and when a group of villagers are sent out to kill it (in reality to be killed by the army, their deaths blamed on the creature as a way of undermining the King and allowing the Prime Minister to seize power), the beast is aroused.
Western filmmakers could learn a lot from Monstrum: the characters that we are supposed to like and likeable, the villains suitably evil and the action no-nonsense. The film is a bit overlong at 105 minutes, and Monstrum itself is a bit of a nondescript beast, looking like a giant Critter – but the film is a lot of fun and my God, if more horror movies had an ounce of the unpretentious entertainment value of this, we’d all be a lot better off.
David Flint, guest reviewer via The Reprobate
“Monstrum may spend too much time trying to fool the audience into thinking the monster isn’t real, but it’s funny buddy-cop-esque comedy, the compelling father-daughter relationship between Yun Kyum and Myung, and the electrifying fight scenes involving the monster make this a highly entertaining creature feature.” Bloody Disgusting
“Interestingly, much of the second act plays out less like a monster movie and more like a detective yarn. Yun Kyum is a fearsome warrior, but he approaches the village’s monster problem like a sleuth, following clues and piecing together evidence […] It’s a testament to the movie’s charms that this mystery holds your attention, even as its conclusion is a foregone one.” Boston Hassle
“Monstrum comes with my highest recommendation. It hits all the desired beats of a great creature feature but has so much more simmering beneath the surface. Monstrum has made this critic instantly fall in love, and the creature is an icon in the making. Brilliant performances from the ensemble cast and an excellent instinct for suspense and tension solidify this as a must-watch.” Daily Dead
“Perhaps the Monstrum itself is a personification of the very pain and chaos that the previous regime inflicted. And the nation’s effort to defeat it symbolizes their struggle to overcome the scars of the past and create a new life and country for themselves. Overall, Monstrum is B-movie monster horror that has some great bloody kills, but also tells a poignant story about a difficult time in Korean history.” Halloween Year-Round
” …Monstrum achieves its goal to be a fun, entertaining and action-packed monster movie. If you are able to look past the dull moments and some bad CG effects, you’ll most likely enjoy the film.” Horror World & Reviews
“Monstrum is a wildly entertaining monster movie that is rife with irony for contemporary audiences keenly attuned to themes of pandemics, fake news, and “deep state” subversion […] The monster design is not particularly original, but the digital effects look unusually realistic on the small screen.” J.B. Spins
“The film looks great, thanks in part to some exceptional costuming but mainly to cinematographer Kim Dong-Yeon’s capable manoeuvring through interiors and exteriors, false backdrops and lushly wooded hills. Monstrum is no masterpiece—go in expecting The Host and come out disappointed. But for creature feature fun and just a touch of flatulence humor, Monstrum delivers.” MaddWolf
“Yet even as, in the end, we – along with all the characters – see this flesh-and-blood monstrum rampaging through the kingdom and indiscriminately infecting, tossing, goring or eating anyone who gets in the way, it never loses its allegorical dimension, not least because several of the human characters prove no less monstrous in their willingness to trample all over others in a callous, self-serving assault on national harmony.” Projected Figures
“One of the things I like about Mulgoe is the degree of seriousness with which it all plays out, where the political struggles end up causing terrible harm to the innocent. The creature itself, when we finally meet it, isn’t at all what we expected. Its origins prove to be quite different from our assumptions and guesses…” Rivets on the Poster
“If you love monsters feel free to check this one out, it’s a pretty special one. A mean mutt it is too, ratcheting up quite a body count throughout the film, and with Korea consistently providing great production values and art direction, rest assured it looks pretty well done.” Screen Anarchy
” …Monstrum is just great fun as it seemlessly blends horror, martial arts, period drama and comedy and walks through all of it light-footedly, thanks to an intelligent script that focuses on more than just mainstays and brings intrigue what could in lesser hands been mere spectacle, an elegant directorial effort with a focus on pace and tension, fun characters embodied by a competent cast, and last but not least a pretty cool creature.” Search My Trash
“Sim Woon’s underhandedness is persistently predictable, as is Yun Kyum’s honourable path to redemption. The effects work is competent, but the creature’s lack of personality or motivation chases the film down another emotional cul-de-sac. The last-minute cop-out ending only further confirms Monstrum as a toothless, superficial exercise.” South China Morning Post
“Monstrum is a kick-ass genre-bender. It is filled with excitement, great action, and a cool monster. The characters are well written and bought to life by very strong acting. The heroes are likable and the villains are total dicks. It is a ton of fun and fellow creature feature and action fans will surely eat this one up!” Words from the Master
“Monstrum is the first creature action movie set in the Joseon era and has a suspenseful and entertaining premise, but it is ruined by a predictable plot. One highlight of this film is the design of the monster and splashy special effects” Yonhap News
Monstrum was released in South Korea on September 12, 2018.
In the USA, RLJE Films/Image Entertainment and Shudder released Jong-ho Huh’s creature feature Monstrum on Blu-ray, DVD, VOD and Digital HD on November 17th 2020. Order via Amazon.com
Cast and characters:
Myung-Min Kim … Yoon Gyeom
In-kwon Kim … Sung Han
Hyeri Lee … Myung
Woo-sik Choi … Heo
Sung-woong Park … Jin Yong
Hee-soon Park … King Jungjong
Kyeong-yeong Lee … Sim Woon
Kyu-bok Lee … Mo-gae
Won-hee Jo … High-ranking government officer
Joon-Bum Kim … Peddler 1
Kyu-Baek Kim … Peddler 4
Do-Hyun Sung … Soldier 1
Min-soo Sung … Government post-Sangsun
Hee-Myoung Yang … Peddler 1
Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1
Audio: Dolby Digital