Monolith Review

Despite taking place in mostly one location, Lily Sullivan’s fantastic performance keeps this one from ever being stale.

Last Updated on February 13, 2024

PLOT: While trying to salvage her career, a disgraced journalist begins investigating a strange conspiracy theory. But as the trail leads uncomfortably close to home, she is left to grapple with the lies at the heart of her own story.

REVIEW: I absolutely adore how much independent horror allows for so much creativity. No matter how many I see, someone comes along that does so much with so little, and creates something wholly unique. The concept of a film taking place in one location isn’t exactly breaking new ground, but it’s how it’s handled that really impressed me. Despite only having one on-screen character, Monolith manages to keep things interesting. It’s beautiful, creates an intriguing mystery, and features a phenomenal leading performance.

Most people likely know Lily Sullivan from her starring role in last year’s Evil Dead Rise. I certainly took note of her there and was hoping she’d be a regular for horror. In Monolith she is simply known as The Interviewer and she’s the absolute centerpiece of the film. With a weaker lead, I’m not sure the movie would have worked but thankfully they have Sullivan. She’s phenomenal and really helps add layers to the more simplistic approach of the script. It’s also nice to hear her in her natural Australian accent.

Lily Sullivan as The Interviewer in Monolith (2024).

The story follows The Interviewer shortly after she’s lost their job in disgrace. She’s a journalist with some integrity issues and is attempting to save her career…by starting a podcast. It’s treated as her breaking a big story, but it’s really like any ghost podcast out there. But I’m not going to knock the execution, it’s just a little bit of a flimsy concept. Her being disgraced is more problematic to the film’s logic than anything.

One aspect that I loved was the audio editing which we got quite the involved look at. I do a lot of editing myself, so it was fun to see a daily tool of mine utilized. And, to the filmmakers’ credit, they got it right and clearly went to great lengths for authenticity. The editing of those moments, as well as the movie overall, keeps things interesting while its mostly Sullivan talking to someone on the phone. Despite taking place mostly at a lone house, Monolith manages to be quite stunning. The house itself is absolutely beautiful and helps to provide a fun visual style. Especially with how they display all the information webs of post-it notes and pictures.

Lily Sullivan as The Interviewer in Monolith (2024).

There are some story inconsistencies that bugged me a bit. Like, how The Interviewer is established as a bit of a pariah at the beginning due to journalistic integrity issues, yet her podcast is immediately a massive hit. While I can believe that the supernatural element brought in those listeners, it’s not even addressed. Or a number being immediately unavailable as soon as the caller dies? I like at least a little bit of logic in my supernatural, so those moments nearly lost me.

Monolith is the kind of film that isn’t going to be for the impatient. This essentially takes place in one room and starts with nearly 3 minutes of total blackness. The intention is certainly to focus on the voices more than anything on screen. In many ways, it almost feels like an audio podcast; apropos given the story at hand. And at times it feels like an exercise in creativity. Sure, there were moments when I was almost desperate to see more than just the room she records in. But it asks the question: “Can this story, set in one room, have enough momentum to carry a 90-minute movie?” And I’d say the answer is yes.

MONOLITH IS IN THEATERS AND ON DIGITAL FEBRUARY 16TH, 2024

Trailer: Lily Sullivan of Evil Dead Rise faces down more horror in Monolith, which reaches theatres and digital next month

Monolith

GOOD

7

About the Author

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Tyler Nichols is a horror fanatic who resides in Michigan and is always on the hunt for the next great film. When not scouring the internet for movie news, he is usually off watching something dark, writing nonsensical musings, or playing in some fantastical video game world. While horror takes up most of his time, he still makes time for films of all types, with a certain affinity for the strange and unusual. He’s also an expert on all things Comic Book Cinema. In addition to reviews and interviews here on JoBlo.com, Tyler also helps with JoBlo Horror Originals where he’s constantly trying to convince viewers to give lesser-known horror films a chance.