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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Monstrum (2018)




This was getting a ton of buzz when it debuted on Shudder. I’m a big fan of monster movies and have had many great experiences watching South Korean genre flicks so I was in. I expected a typical creature feature, but I got so much more than that. Before I continue it is clear to me that I’m going to have to drop some spoilers to properly explain the story. If you don’t like that sort of thing then let me just tell you know that this is a great movie and you should check it out.

There is a lot of political intrigue in this movie. The King is surrounded by people trying to knock him off the throne and take power for themselves. We know this because the movie starts off in the past where the army kills a bunch of civilians who might have the plague. Not to protect the people, but to undermine their support for the king, whom everyone thinks ordered it. A little girl is left alive, which becomes important later on.

Then the action moves to years later where a monster is terrorizing the mountain where the capital city gets many of its resources. People are being killed and butchered by something in the woods. The king calls upon Yoo Gyeom, a former head of his guards, to come and stop the monster. He has retired with his best friend and daughter to live a simple life of hunting. He returns to the capital city and gets caught up in all of the intrigue. We find out that the reason he left was because of his daughter, whom he adopted and raised. Yep she was the little girl that survived the massacre.

Love the creature!
The big twist is that while the man trying to bring down the king has been faking the attacks, he doesn’t realize that there is actually a monster on the mountain. One that fed on the bodies of those slaughtered earlier, some of whom did have the plague. Not only is it a giant and deadly creature but it also carries a disease that could wipe anyone out that it doesn’t kill! This all comes to a head in an exciting and explosive conclusion.

I love this movie. It has everything that I could ask for. There is a cool creature, that while brought to the screen with CGI is done so spectacularly. I can’t think of a single scene that made me cringe. The digitally created monster is masterfully added to each sequence without error. It looks great and is scary. This is helped by an excellent cast that had to react fearfully from something that wasn’t on set. That might not sound like a hard thing for an actor to do, but I’ve seen enough monster movies to tell you there are a lot that can’t pull it off.

The story is unlike anything that I’ve ever seen before in a movie like this. They seamlessly weave a complex bit of political intrigue into Monstrum without losing track of the creature mayhem. It is also interesting that the monster is only a monster because of the political maneuvering and arrogance of the humans who plucked him from his home. The creature started out as an earlier king’s pet. The plague and the hunters disturbing it all come from the machinations of devious plotting men trying to seize power. That is pretty deep and a fun twist on the genre.

There are also a lot of fights between our human characters which means some great martial arts and swordplay. The choreography is wonderful, and the scenes are editing in a way that is easy to follow. Arrows fly and blades slash as large groups of soldiers do battle with one another. When they add the creature in it works just as well. That I wasn’t expecting, and it impressed me. Those responsible for Monstrum really knew what the heck they were doing. The last twenty minutes of the movie are filled with so much action that I can’t imagine anyone not liking this flick.

Probably obvious by now that I’m giving this one a huge recommendation. It is in the running for best movie that I’ve seen this year. Like I’ve already mentioned as of the writing of this review it is streaming on Shudder and is a must see.


© Copyright 2020 John Shatzer

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