Let’s hunt down a beast.
Note: I think this film only became available in North America in 2021, but was produced in 2018 in South Korea, so I don’t have a great date for this one. If I could confirm what year the U.S. release was I would label it as that.
In Monstrum, we get a mixture of humor, political tension, monster hunting, and action. AND IT WORKS!
We follow Yoon Gyeom (Mying-Min Kim) an outcasted badass who was exiled for saving a potential plague victim Myung (Hyeri Lee) who he has raised as his own daughter. His brother Sung Han (Kim In-kwon) and soldier Heo (Woo-sik Choi) round out our group of heroes. Gyeom provides the ethos of the story with Myung and Han and Heo provide the humor.
Something is attacking the people in the mountains and leaving their bodies absolutely wrecked. The emperor fears that his prime minister is staging the attacks and reaches out to Gyeom to lead the investigation. However, he is accompanied by the prime minister’s private army.
Things go a bit south.
Set designs and costumes are excellent. It truly feels like the 16th century (albeit stylized) and everyone does their part. There isn’t a dud performance in the massive ensemble that eventually forms. We have a solid adventure film through and through.
Fighting choreography is likewise excellent. I expected a horror film but instead got a badass action film with monster elements. The large set piece fights are tightly choreographed, and this is some of the best action I’ve seen in a while.
The directing is sometimes odd. We get blurry slow-motion and other camera tricks that for me ended up distracting from what was happening more than emphasizing the moment. It isn’t always an issue (and seemed to dissipate in the latter half) but it did annoy me. When the camera is calmer the action and drama simply work in a more organic way. The film would overall be more enjoyable if these camera tricks weren’t present.
The monster looks good for the budgetary limits. Overall, this is a fun film. A great popcorn night! It reminds me a lot of The Brotherhood of the Wolf in content and idea. There is more of a political angle here (as opposed to religious in BOTW).
For fans of creature features with a historical angle this one will satiate you. It is odd that this subgenre seems to get so little attention given the popularity of the films already in it.
Worth a watch.