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Monolith

All you have to do is listen.

An intriguing, low budget/high concept mystery, MONOLITH offers up a decent slab of diversion that's never quite what you expect.

While touching on much bigger sci-fi epics like "Arrival" and "2001" it only teases by nudging up against those films, before sliding in another direction.

Lily Sullivan (so good in "Evil Dead Rise") commands the screen as recently disgraced reporter. We never learn her name, dropping into her life as she takes a job via Zoom on a new podcast. She's simply known as "The Interviewer"

There's obviously been some online backlash against her last story as a mainstream reporter, but we only hear snippets about it. Her new editor is desperate for her first post, growing ever more impatient as his new hire fails to file a story.

She wanders around her parents sprawling Australian home, a modern mansion in the secluded hills far from the city. They are away on vacation, giving her a solitary place to recover from her recent troubles.

An anonymous email arrives, with a name, a phone number and a mention of "the brick". She calls the woman, Floramae, who reluctantly reveals her encounter with a black brick that was just "there" one day and changed her life.

This story leads her to an art gallery owner in possession of that brick, Klaus.

Klaus opens up to the interviewer, at first teasing that it's not just a brick, and then detailing that he's collected many of these mysterious "blacker than black" bricks.

Her first podcast on the brick goes viral and many people start sharing their stories. I'm not going to reveal anything else on the story, as it expands outward from there.

What follows surprised me many times and was never less than intriguing.

Like Tom Hardy's 2013 film, "Locke" this is a one-person film. The entire movie never leaves that massive, stunning home, save for some momentary remembrances of the people that she interviews.

One-person shows succeed or fail on the merit of the actor on stage and this is where Sullivan more than excels, holding us spellbound as she dives deeper and deeper into a very twisted road.

I loved some of the twists that this took. Is it a mystery? A psychological drama? A horror film? A sci-fi alien thriller? It touches on all of those genres, keeping you in suspense until it's final moments.

And what exactly does that last line of voice-over mean? I can interpret it two very different ways.

Sullivan, writer Lucy Campbell and director Matt Vesely come out of the gate strong, showing what you can achieve on a very small budget. The film never looks or feels like a low budget entry. They conspire to create an on-screen, tangible paranoia that calls back to Philip Kaufman's excellent 1978 "Invasion of the Body Snatchers"

The creep factor is real.

MONOLITH's dark secrets get a very solid B.



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