Lately Korea tends to mix old dramas with horror. The zombie thriller Rampant and the zombie series Netflix Kingdom use visual effects from Joseon’s time to create another horror. This also applies to a creature that has a monster.
Based on a true story, director Hu Chen Ho is inspired by the current chronicles of the Joseon Dynasty, which date back to the 16th century. This excerpt tells how King Jung Jong left his chambers in 1527 after he saw a mysterious and unidentified creature haunting the royal palace. From this vague description Khoo makes a fascinating and exciting film with political intrigue, romance and bloody action, crowned by a great monster.
The story goes like this: During the reign of Jung Jung (Hee Soon Park) the men spread the rumor that a monster ate a man and wandered around Inuit Mountain, causing panic. This news, combined with the terrible plague that devastated the kingdom ten years earlier, means that the king must take urgent action to find out if the so-called monster exists or if it is a forgery of the intriguing Prime Minister Shim Woon (Lee Seung Young).
The king then called on the disgraced general Yoon Gyum (Kim Myung Min) to find out the truth and identify those responsible for the murders. Yoon Gyum is accompanied by his trusted right hand Song Han (Kim In Kwon) and his adopted daughter Myung (Lee Hereeree in his first film) and a hundred disposable soldiers and farmers.
A monster is many things at once. First of all, he continues to play with the political intrigues of the Joseon dynasty and many of the king’s enemies. About 70% of my notes while filming the film weren’t real monsters, whether they’re real or not, wait! because Huu lets you guess if it’s a real monster or just a scare wire technique, and it usually works. The message of the film, which uses fear and panic for political purposes, is interesting and well done, even though you can’t wait for the cursed monster to eat people on the screen. Monstrum also has a funny side, because Yoon Kyum and Sun Han are the funniest couple of soldiers you’ve seen in the movie lately. There is excellent chemistry between the two actors, and their dynamism is a long-awaited revival of the political manoeuvres of the first half of the film.
Are you saying this monster is real? Absolutely, and it sounds fantastic. The best part of Monstrum is undoubtedly the design of the monster, which reminds us of the legendary Getae creature from Chinese and Korean mythology. It’s a kind of big scaly lion with the body of a bear covered in bloody pus. The result is a terrifying creature capable of many bloody and exciting actions. The film relies too much on computer graphics, but every time we see desperate soldiers trying to fight the monster called Monster, the audience will be excited when the huge beast devours everything that comes its way. It is useful if the film uses long periods of time to make the plot seem fluid and realistic.
A monster can spend too much time to make the public believe that the monster is not real, but his funny Buddy Cop comedy, the convincing father-daughter relationship between Yoon Kyum and Myeong and the fiery fighting scenes with the monster make this creature very exciting.
The monster is now going through Schudder.
Editor’s note : This Sitges review was originally published on the 21st. October 2018 published.