MONSTRUM **** South Korea 2018 Dir: Jong-ho Huh. Dir: 105 mins
Set in the 1800’s in South Korea. Yoon Gyeom (Myung-Min Kim), an ex soldier turned hunter, loyal to king Jung Jong is recruited again by the king to find the monster known as Monstrum. There are rumours that Monstrum is brutally murdering and spreading a plague to the villagers of Joseon. The government is threatening to overthrow Jong as king and he is unsure of how much of their information about Monstrum he can trust so he looks to those he can trust to help. Yoon, along with friend Sung (In-kwon Kim), adopted daughter Myung (Hyeri Lee) and a few others true to the king not only discover that Monstrum does indeed exist, they learn how he came to be, the truth about the plague and the plot to dethrone the king.
Those of us who are big fans of other recent Korean action/horror movies such as RAMPANT and the fabulous series KINGDOM will enjoy this a lot. Zombies are absent from this but the plague victims are suitably gruesome and the political warring is very familiar. This is by no means a bad thing. Koreans seem to have this storyline well and truly nailed and it is something I never get bored of. They have a wonderful way of mixing complicated political treachery, stoic loyalty and fabulous action and the added bonus with this movie is the truly grotesque yet kind of cute monster in Monstrum. Monstrum is a huge threat who does not show himself straight away but when he does you end up rooting for him straight away, marvel at the ease in which he destroys his victims and in turn suffer a degree of heart ache for the poor creature. The action, of course is big and frequent. The only thing that let’s it down slightly is the CGI of the monster which on a few occasions doesn’t look as good as it should. The fight scenes, gore and plague victims hold up so much better. Some reviews have stated that this is slow to start but I strongly disagree. They tell enough backstory to keep you in the know with some typical humorous Korean banter which gives you a few giggles along the way without loseing sight of the story at hand. Keeping up with who is a bad guy and who is good does get a bit complicated so paying attention is key here. The same can be said especially for KINGDOM and I can honestly say I love both of these. Fantastic setting and amazing costumes it is a huge recommend from me.
Review by Sarah Budd