Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans



Directed by Matt Vesely. Starring Lily Sullivan.

Science-Fiction, New Zealand, 94 minutes.


Reviewed as part of the Pigeon Shrine FrightFest film festival 2023


After making an impression in this year's EVIL DEAD RISE, Lily Sullivan pops up once more in the science-fiction chamber piece MONOLITH. Playing a disgraced journalist reduced to chasing stories for a low-rent paranormal podcast in her parent's house, the unnamed journalist is tipped off to a seemingly banal story about a solid brick. As Sullivan’s character interviews a string of people across the globe, all strangers connected by the brick through the years, she soon discovers several mysteries within mysteries connected to this strange artefact and its sinister origins. As the truth becomes more alarming, the journalist soon finds she may have a role in the unfolding mystery.


Set almost entirely within the confines of a living room/podcast studio and with only one character appearing on screen listening to the rest of the cast through headphones, MONOLITH itself could be described as a podcast drama transplanted to the screen with next to no resources. To do so, however, would be greatly uncharitable and to undermine the imaginative work that director Matt Vesely and screenwriter Lucy Campbell bring to the screen alongside the excellent performance of Lily Sullivan, playing a less physical role than in EVIL DEAD RISE but every bit as intense.


As Sullivan’s character travels further and further down a wormhole of paranoia and doubt, the back story and mysteries of the brick deepen with more and more troubling implications of what it means not only to those who have come into contact with it but seemingly even for society itself as word of the object begins to spread thanks to the increasing popularity of the podcast that has brought it into the public consciousness. This is cleverly illustrated throughout by Vesely’s inventive direction and his handling of bringing the stories of the unseen interviewees' interactions with the brick to the screen.


Sizable sections of these interactions are recollected with only Sullivan’s attentive face on screen reacting as she listens on a pair of headphones. What could have been dull and repetitive is the exact opposite here. Much of this is down to Lucy Campbell’s script work, particularly her ear for dialogue, which never comes across as false or forced and draws the viewer further and further into the dizzying plot, displaying her talents as a storyteller.


The film's limited resources never get in the way or distract the viewer. The full attention demanded from the story is easily gained and held throughout. If the writer and director can develop this using minimal resources, then hopes are high to see what they can come up with on a proper budget. Fans of lo-fi, inventive science-fiction such as COHERENCE, PI and PRIMER will find much to admire and enjoy here. Ambitious, inventive and entertaining, this is yet another exciting debut brought into the spotlight by FrightFest that demands further exposure when released to the public.


Iain MacLeod.




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Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans