Written by Train to Busan creator Yeon Sang-ho, Monstrous is a six-episode thriller series that tells the story of a supernatural phenomenon that happened in Jinyang County. This TVING’s offering has a shorter length with only 30-minutes per episode. Its running time might be contentious to some since Monstrous’ plot had a lot of potential that was left unexplored. However, for those who prefer a quick watch, its format is truly made for them. If you need more reasons to try and watch Monstrous, here are the things to look forward to:
The Buddha’s past
The center of all dark and bizarre happenings in Jinyang is the mysterious Buddha unearthed in its jurisdiction. The said Buddha is cursed and causes anyone who looks at it to experience hell in their hearts. Seeing the statue’s eyes would make a person see their worst fears, remember their most traumatic pain, and awakens their inner evil in them. And as I’ve said in the introduction, this main plot has a lot of potential and the first season felt like a prologue to what could be much richer story and a possible thriller adventure.
Koo Kyo-hwan as Jung Ki-hoon
Koo Kyo-hwan plays the role of Jung Ki-hoon, an archaeologist who follows strange supernatural phenomena to cover for his occult magazine and YouTube channel. He might be laidback looking but he is carrying with him his painful past – losing his daughter and separating from his wife. His character was away from the town when the curse started so most of his scenes are more about his journey to save his wife and stop the Buddha’s curse from happening. He has a hero character arc but his stand-out scenes in this series is when he got stuck in a loop of memories about how he lost his family. Kyo-hwan did well in that scene. He can really put color to his characters and his one-liners in this series left a lasting impact.
Shin Hyun-been as Lee Soo-jin
Shin Hyun-been takes on the role of Lee Soo-jin, a genius pattern interpreter and Ki-hoon’s separated partner. She was staying in Jinyang County after the death of her daughter and she was at the epicenter of the disaster when it happened. Soo-jin experienced the Buddha’s curse firsthand but unlike the other residents, Soo-jin really didn’t turn evil. Instead, she had to relive the trauma of losing her daughter. And this is the type of character Shin Hyun-been is very capable of portraying. She’s an intelligent actress who put details into her roles and with Lee Soo-jin, she was able to show the pain of a grieving mother through her downcast eyes and cries of pain.
At the start of Monstrous, we met characters with seemingly independent stories but as the story progresses they turned out to be very much connected. Han Seok-hee (Kim Ji-young), the detective who ended meeting Ki-hoon on their way to Jinyang; Han Do-kyung (Nam Da-reum), an angsty teenager who seems to be avoiding his previous rebellious past; and Kwak Yong-joo (Kwak Dong-yeon), an ex-convict who uses the curse to feed for his greed for violence. These three characters are interesting on their own but their past connection was a nice addition and a subplot that could have been explored further if the series had been lengthier. All of their stories eventually came together as the story hit its thrilling climax.
Admittedly, for a six-episode series, Monstrous’ first half played at a slower pace than expected. But once the story reached its climax – Ki-hoon finally arriving at Jinyang – the story also reached much thrilling pacing. Ki-hoon and Soo-jin’s battle against the curse is a scene one should watch out for. And the resolution also opened up a possibility for a second season with Ki-hoon and Soo-jin partnering up to solve mysterious cases.