September 23, 2015

Monster: Hey Serial Killer, You're About to Get Squashed

South Korea may make only about one percent of the movies that the United States does but I bet the Asian powerhouse annually churns out more serial killers flicks percentage-wise and in total numbers both. That means that when I say that Monster is one of the better serial killer thrillers out there, I'm according it high praise, ranking it right alongside such genre classics as The Chaser, Memories of Murder, and I Saw the Devil (and well above rival fare like Missing, Confession of Murder, and Helpless).

What makes Monster especially unique though is that its hero (Kim Go-eun) isn't the type of protagonist usually associated with the genre. Far from it, she's neither a detective nor, for that matter, a man who outwits her deranged nemesis, after learning his ways and getting into his mad mindset. This vengeful arm of justice is a none-too-bright teenager motivated by the love of both her sister (Kim Bo-ra) and, then later, by the love of her charge (Ahn Seo-hyeon), an adorable kid who she basically adpots.

Hwang In-ho's movie also has an unusual amount of comedy — a sun that turns into a grandma's face to give wacky advice, the repeated use of squash as a weapon. Hwang even injects comedy into some of the more poignant moments. When's the last time you laughed when two people survived bludgeoning? You'll do that here!

For all that, Monster does adhere to some South Korean serial killer movie tropes including a mind-bogglingly pretty villain (Lee Min-ki who's probably never been better or more beautiful) who has suffered through a despairing childhood caused in part by a deranged mom (Kim Bu-seon) and a selfish sibling (Kim Roi-ha). Plus, there' that slaughterhouse worth of blood.

It has just occurred to me: If you don't like serial killer movies, you probably can't really call yourself a Korean movie fan.

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