Cinema/TV, Film Notes

FrightFest review – Monolith (2023)

FrightFest review – Monolith (2023)

A woman (Lily Sullivan), listed in the credits as ‘the Interviewer’, sits in a luxurious, isolated Australian home – accompanied only by a picky-eating pet turtle in a tank and a bank of tech which brings voices from around the world to her.  She’s a journalist in semi-hiding after a story has gone sour and she’s slid from a prestige publication to a podcast called Beyond Believable – which is still on the point of firing her for not delivering anything.  An anonymous email suggests she get in touch with Floramae (Lin Cooper Tang) and ask her about ‘the brick’, which yields a strange anecdote about a situation which came up some years earlier involving a dispute between housekeeper Floramae and her wealthy employers about a) a scratched table, b) a music scholarship for Floramae’s talented daughter and b) a mysterious black brick taken to be an artwork and sold to a German dealer (Terence Crawford), who surprises the interviewer by claiming to have several of these bricks … of mysterious origin, each unique, decorated on the inside with symbols personal to their original owners.

The brick story, of course, goes viral and more reports of bricks come in from around the world, as the Interviewer makes connections with her own life (a chunk of the backstory parallels Michael Haneke’s Caché) and – inevitably – we await the arrival by surprising means of her own brick.  Sullivan, from Evil Dead Rise, gets the sort of showcase Tom Hardy and Jakob Cedergren (or Jake Gyllenhaal) have in Locke and The Guilty, alone onscreen but reacting to overlapping voices – often director Matt Vesely concentrates on soundwave files, scrolling comments, bits of tech kit, even that turtle, for long spells before coming back to Sullivan’s face.  As befits a story about bricks, we get information bit by bit and it piles up into a plot which eventually becomes something like a wall around an already remote-from-the-world protagonist.  We sympathise with the Interviewer, tending to believe she’s been stitched up in her recent misfortune, but notice her tiny lies to subjects, claiming not to be recording off-the-record chats she’s 100% intending to use, and snipping words and phrases out of an equivocal, qualified statement to make something more impactful and perhaps misleading.  Written by Lucy Campbell.

Here’s the FrightFest listing.




No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: