Monstrum [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - United Kingdom - Acorn Media
Review written by and copyright: Eric Cotenas (22nd October 2021).
The Film

In the year 1506, king Yeonsan is dethroned and Jung Jong (Hansel and Gretel's Hee-soon Park) becomes the new king; however, those who put him in power soon turn against him and seek to undermine the public confidence in him, putting the nation in turmoil for the next decade. When reports of a monstrous beast nicknamed "Monstrum" killing animals and humans on Mount Inwangsan, Jung Jong suspects that it is an invention of the Prime Minister Sim Woon (Sense8's Lee Kyung-young) and appoints his own private investigator in former Commander of the Royal Guard Yoon Gyeom (Into the Mirror's Myung-Min Kim) who committed treason by refusing to kill a little girl thought to be infected with the plague but whose life was spared by Jung Jong in spite of warnings of the Court. Since then, Yoon Gyeom has been farming with fellow former soldier Sung Han (Tidal Wave's Kim In-kwon) and raising the little girl as his daughter, now grown into well-read and headstrong Myung (Hyeri Lee). Myung is as excited to visit the capital as she is by meeting handsome young Commander Hur (Parasite's Woo-sik Choi) who was sent to summon her father, but Yoon Gyeom is as wary of the Court as he is of the King.

The Prime Minister and others in the Court question Jung Jong's every decision, including putting Yoon Gyeom in charge of the Tiger Knights tiger hunters in the mountains who have no allegiance to the kingdom and volunteering healthy local men to assist in the search of the mountains. When they come across the bodies of slaughtered hunters and farmers, aspiring doctor Myung notes wounds that appear to have been committed not by a beast but by a man, making Yoon Gyeom suspicious; however, they do come across one dying villager covered in blood boils, suggesting that the beast carries the plague. The Prime Minister has indeed invented "Monstrum" and sends Captain Jin Young and his men to slaughter the hunting party as ostensibly further victims of the beast; however, Monstrum turns out to be all too real and all too deadly. As the Prime Minister still intends to use the creature's existence as a means of dethroning Jung Jong by stirring up the terror of the locals, Yoon Gyeom, Myung, Sung Han, and Hur try to head off the creature's path to the palace and find a way to destroy it once and for all.

Although a relatively well-mounted period South Korean production with excellent set and costume design, Monstrum as a throwback to classic Asian monster movies is a pretty unengaging affair with dull characters, shallow intrigues, dull stretches, and action set pieces that are stylistically more chaotic than kinetic. Upon first, far glimpses, the CGI monster looks as poor as what one might find in a Hollywood studio pic of the early 2000s; however, the creation is actually more impressively designed and rendered in closer shots. When the monster reaches the palace, neither the actors nor the cinematographer or editor can make the sequence anything more than actors ducking and dodging in front of a green screen. Performances are of a professional standard, but the drama is not interesting enough to care about the characters, nor is the humor enough to entertain for the length of the feature. While presumably a crowd-pleaser theatrically and at festivals, Monstrum is just yet another CGI monster movie in the Shudder queue for the home viewer.


Digitally-photographed and edited, Monstrum cannot help but look great on Acorn's 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 widescreen port of RLJ Entertainment's American disc. Digitally-graded colors are rich and detail is quite nice in facial features, clothing, and the actual physical sets and locations as well as some of the few indulgent views of the CGI creature.


Audio options include a Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track and an English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo dub generally acceptable apart from some flat line readings that make the most of directional effects and ambient surround atmosphere. The credits and some prefatory text are in Korean only, and can only be translated by enabling the full English subtitle track (there is no track for only captions and credits).


Like the American release, the British disc has absolutely no extras. We have no information about the South Korean or any other Asian releases of the film; however, the German release has a making-of piece of less than three minutes but neither it nor the feature is English-friendly.


While presumably a crowd-pleaser theatrically and at festivals, Monstrum is just yet another CGI monster movie in the Shudder queue for the home viewer.


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