Monologue-ish: Our Review of ‘Monolith’

Posted in Theatrical, VOD/iTunes/DigitalDownload by - February 19, 2024
Monologue-ish: Our Review of ‘Monolith’

The Covid-19 Pandemic brought along a whole wave of isolation-based filmmaking during its wake, with limited locations, crew, and talent. Three years later, we are still seeing some of the results of these projects, with the new film Monolith from director Matt Vesely hitting VOD and select theatrical locations across North America this weekend. Filmed in one location with only one actor ever appearing on camera throughout its 93-minute runtime, Monolith wears its inspirations on its sleeve.

The film follows an unnamed journalist, credited only as The Interviewer (Lily Sullivan) after she has a mysterious email sent to her inbox. Recently starting an unsolved mysteries/conspiracy podcast in the wake of losing her reporting job, The Interviewer opens the link looking for inspiration. This leads her down the path of a strange phenomenon surrounding mysterious black bricks that have appeared all over the world. Spiralling down the rabbit hole, she soon discovers that the story behind the bricks may have been her story to tell all along.

Leaning heavily on the influence of films like Pontypool and Talk Radio before it, Monolith spends a good portion of the film without the main character in front of a microphone dissecting her findings. In fact for the better part of an hour, very little happens in the film at all aside from The Interviewer collecting data and trying to analyse it. She uses her podcast to disseminate her findings and replay the interviews she records from her phone as she remains bunkered in her parent’s lavish house. This leads to a very slow burn for us the audience watching this and might turn some of us off completely.

If not for the very engaging and skillful performance from Lily Sullivan, this film would likely fall flat on its face. The material is very exposition heavy in places which could have dragged it into an unwatchable bog if it were for Sullivan guiding us through it all. It’s a performance that probably outdoes the level of filmmaking we are seeing here to be honest, though Lucy Campbell’s script does have some surprises up its sleeve. The ending is sure to be very divisive, as it borrows heavily from another sci-fi classic that I won’t mention here due to the spoilery nature it would entail. And it may leave some audiences cold, or simply as underwhelmed as I was.

If not for the performance from Sullivan, I’m not sure that this film would even be seeing the light of day. But, despite its slow-burn nature and third act issues, Monolith still remains a watchable film with a winning performance. And in the dregs of a February box office that’s been decimated by the fallout of the WGA/SAG strikes, you could do a lot worse.

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"Kirk Haviland is an entertainment industry veteran of over 20 years- starting very young in the exhibition/retail sector before moving into criticism, writing with many websites through the years and ultimately into festival work dealing in programming/presenting and acquisitions. He works tirelessly in the world of Canadian Independent Genre Film - but is also a keen viewer of cinema from all corners of the globe (with a big soft spot for Asian cinema!)
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