Horror Movie Review: Monstrum (2018)

Directed by Heo Jong-ho, who co-wrote it with Heo Dam, Monstrum is a delightful blend of history, fantasy, and horror. One that claims to be ‘based on a true story’. A line that most horror fans will immediately scoff at.

However, in a very interesting idea, Monstrum does take inspiration from actual history. In particular, the 16th century Joseon Dynasty. Where King Jungjong was forced to abandon his residence in 1527 after a mysterious and unidentified creature began to trouble the royal palace.

That’s very cool but how does that translate into a 105-minute movie? By combining period drama elements with exciting fantasy-based horror, comedic moments and layered with thrilling political detail. Also, there’s a monster that may or may not be responsible for an extreme version of the Black Plague.

If you can’t tell already, Monstrum is a blast.

Taking place during the reign of Jungjong (Park Hee-soon), the rumours that a vicious and violent beast roams the forest around Mount Inwangsan are running rampant. The people are scared, not just because of the mysterious beast, but because the plague has returned. Are they connected? The King is not convinced but under pressure from parliament and in particular, the devious Prime Minister Sim Woon (Lee Geung-young), he decides to send out a party of warriors to find out if Monstrum is real.

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Needing the best for this mission, he sends for his general Yun Kyum (Kim Myung-min) who left in disgrace after refusing to kill an innocent child. Yun, unwilling to deny his King and being an honourable man, agrees to head up the Monstrum hunt alongside his brother Sung Han (Kim In-kwon), his daughter Myung (Lee Hye-ri) and royal guard Hur (Choi Woo-shik).

Is the beast real? Or is this all part of a plot to bring down the King?

Monstrum plays around with both possibilities for quite a while. Keeping you guessing as it builds to its eventual reveal. All the while dropping hints and setting up a frenetic second half. We all know the effect fear and panic can have, especially when used for political gain, and Monstrum tells this side of its story well.

It also tells a brilliant story of redemption, love, honour, and fantastical horror too. All thanks to a set of characters you’ll love and actors nailing their roles. The dynamic of Yun and Sung is hilarious and endearing, the love story of Myung and Hur is adorable, the villainous behaviour of Sim Woon and his underlings. Forget the monster, Monstrum is brilliant because of its characters.

However, we can’t ignore Monstrum itself now, can we? A hulking beast infected by the plague and driven mad. It’s CGI but it looks fantastic and results in some bloody carnage. In fact, it might surprise some to see just how bloody Monstrum can be.

Now, throw in some amazingly choregraphed action sequences, a final third that is a pure thrill ride, an ending that just feels right, and it’s clear that Monstrum is one hell of an enjoyable movie.




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  • Carl Fisher

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Monstrum (2018)
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8.6/10 (2 votes)