One suspect article takes down a once respected journalist. Holed up in her wealthy parent’s estate while they are on holiday, our leading lady tries to revamp her image by creating a conspiracy theory podcast. While wading through emails, she spots one that is particularly eye-catching. Following up on the information, she continues down a path of potential otherworldly objects influencing people around the globe. But truth and lies are closer aligned than you might want to believe. Matt Vesely‘s SXSW 2023 sci-fi feature MONOLITH pulls you into oblivion.
The film takes place in a single location where The Interviewer records her podcast. The secluded and expansive modern mid-century estate allows her to wander, but most of the action happens at a desk or in front of the wall of windows that contain her discoveries. Our journalist creates an episode of her first phone calls. Editing the calls at her will, the audience questions her culpability. This small moment puts your morality compasses in a tailspin. It is a slick move from writer Lucy Campbell. Podcasts are my nightly ritual, cleaning motivation, and my travel companion. Since SERIAL, the industry has exploded. In MONOLITH, the story goes viral. People begin contacting her directly with their stories, always warning her to stop.
At some point, the danger reaches the front door of our journalist’s secluded location when she receives a package related to the mysterious story. The darkness attached to the object feels slightly Faustian and not of this planet. No one remembers how they received their object, but each reaches a point in questioning where they feel compelled to hang up out of fear.
Lily Sullivan plays The Interviewer. Her emotional arc is mesmerizing, acting as a therapist to her callers, a manipulator for personal gain, and a target of the unknown. As the only onscreen actor in the film, her ability to carry such an intense and mysterious film is quite a feat. Sullivan owns the audience.
Is this a case of mass hysteria? In many ways, the plot mirrors today’s conspiracy groups like QAnon. Our leading lady goes down the rabbit hole, and the audience follows. MONOLITH boasts a jaw-dropping final ten minutes. This is one hell of a sci-fi thriller. It is a must-see.
IN THEATERS AND ON DIGITAL: February 16, 2024