Monstrum is a South Korean hybrid of period action film and good old-school monster movie. It’s unique, because it’s the first Korean monster movie set during Joseon dynasty. It was a minor success in South Korea, but for most other places it was picked up for streaming by Shudder.
It’s the 15th century, and the Plague is running rampant in the villages—but soon there are also rumours of a mighty beast roaming the Mount Inwangsan region and causing havoc. Panic engulfs the region, so King Joseon brings his most trusted general out of retirement. The general is joined by a group that includes his daughter, a royal court officer and his right-hand man on a quest to find the legendary monster.
Monstrum is a decent film, but it’s not earth-shatteringly amazing. The CGI of the monster is pretty cool, although some of the green-screen work is incredibly ropey, especially when there are humans running away from the monster. The story is pretty interesting due to all the political machinations of the time being integral to the plot. The action sequences are solid, even if they rely on CGI a little too much for my taste.
The film could probably have used a 10 or 15 minute cut to make it a little leaner, but it stills runs at an economical 105 minutes. It effectively plays around with the concept of whether the monster is real or some form of collective hysteria… until it doesn’t. It’s a solid addition to the very in-vogue Korean period/horror mashup genre at the moment, seen most notably in the Netflix series Kingdom (which has zombies, not just one big monster.) Fans of Korean cinema, and specifically Parasite, will recognize Choi Woo-shik as officer Hur.
Sadly, the disc has absolutely no extras.