If you’ve ever wondered what Korean historical drama blended with B-movie monster horror looked like, Shudder’s new original film Monstrum is just what you’ve been looking for!
Does it end up taking itself seriously as a historical piece, or does it go full Troma with the intentionally campy monster design? Let’s go back in time and find out!
(Somewhat) Based on a True Story
Set in 16th century Korea, it weaves a tale of a kingdom fraught with political corruption and instability, all while a horror of the past comes back to bite them.
The first half is a bit slow, taking its time to set the stage and introduce the characters. Following a recent political revolution, tensions are high and citizens are uneasy at best.
After attacks break out from this alleged “Monstrum”, which many don’t even believe exists, a small group is formed to hunt the monster down. The whole monster hunter vibe is a lot of fun.
Going Full Roger Corman
Once we do see the titular Monstrum, the tone goes full monster movie, in more ways than one. The creature itself is brought to life with some admittedly terrible CGI that looks like it’s from a PS3 game.
But it almost feels like that’s the point, especially with the rest of the movie not taking itself too seriously. The filmmakers knew that they didn’t have the biggest budget to make a monster with animatronics, so they set out to make a B-movie, and it kind of works.
Still Has Something to Say
As previously mentioned, Monstrum is very loosely based upon the rule of Jungjong of Josen in 16th century Korea.
Jungjong had overthrown the incredibly corrupt previous king Yeonsangun, and the wounds are still very fresh when the story begins.
We discover that the Monstrum itself was one of many beasts that Yeonsangun kept in the palace to be used for nefarious purposes.
Perhaps the Monstrum itself is a personification of the very pain and chaos that the previous regime inflicted. And the nation’s effort to defeat it symbolizes their struggle to overcome the scars of the past and create a new life and country for themselves.
Overall, Monstrum is B-movie monster horror that has some great bloody kills, but also tells a poignant story about a difficult time in Korean history.
For those viewers who aren’t afraid to read subtitles (which you shouldn’t be), it’s a great watch and an opportunity to learn about another time period and culture!
Monstrum is streaming exclusively on Shudder
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