'Monolith' review: An eerie sci-fi that's a lesson in micro-budget film-making

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A female sits astatine a table successful beforehand of a microphone, wearing a headset.

Credit: Well Go USA

It almost sounds for illustration a challenge: Can you make a characteristic magnitude movie pinch only 1 on-screen actor, 1 location, and a fund of little than half a million?

Written by Lucy Campbell and changeable by Matt Vesely, eerie sci-fi enigma Monolith exists wrong these perchance tricky parameters. Almost nan full movie takes spot successful a modern, isolated location successful nan rolling Adelaide Hills, South Australia, pursuing a disgraced journalist (Lily Sullivan) arsenic she yarn-balls a weird world enigma for her caller podcast series. The movie could easy person been a dismally grounded experiment, but Monolith's logistical restrictions really thief it shine, adding a claustrophobia and consciousness of realism that only heightens nan halfway mystery.

What's Monolith about?

After being publically accused of failing to cheque her sources for a awesome story, a discredited newsman retreats to her able parents' state location extracurricular of Adelaide to activity connected a caller podcast: Beyond Belief, a heavy dive into unexplained mysteries. With nan unit to find a communicative building, 1 abruptly lands successful her inbox: a telephone number and an ambiguous "the truth will out" message.

Soon nan journalist is connected nan way of a unusual arena that appears to beryllium happening crossed nan globe: bizarre achromatic bricks that move up successful people's lives, usually astatine a clip of distress, and which incorporate bizarre symbols wrong them that aren't from immoderate recognisable language.

The communicative itself is creepy enough, but erstwhile unusual occurrences commencement happening successful nan protagonist's life, it becomes clear that there's much astatine play.

A female stands successful beforehand of a ample model pinch insubstantial taped each complete it.

The cleanable solid model for immoderate conspiracy yarn-balling. Credit: Well Go USA

Monolith is simply a instruction successful micro-budget film-making.

If it was easy to make a movie for little than AUD$500,000 (£258,000 / USD$330,000), everyone would beryllium doing it, wouldn't they? The point is, Monolith makes it look easy. Campbell's book utilises podcast interviews and tense telephone calls to adhd a consciousness of creepy realism, while Vesely adds successful slow-moving cutaways to bring nan interviewees' stories to life without nan request for typical effects.

Partway done I did wonderment if nan movie could person been a podcast — and it astir apt would person worked — but past we'd suffer retired connected nan unsettling visuals, Sullivan's superb lead performance, and nan cleanable filming location (seriously, whoever recovered this glass-filled modern house, surrounded by misty grey vistas, deserves an grant of their own). Sullivan is connected surface for almost each of Monolith's 94-minute runtime, pacing anxiously betwixt rooms for illustration a prisoner, obsessively editing audio files and gazing retired astatine nan hilly, gum tree-lined surroundings pinch nan expanding fearfulness of a female who feels observed. Sullivan plays this domiciled perfectly, pinch nan layers of her characteristic peeling backmost arsenic nan communicative progresses and her ain life intersects pinch nan enigma she's exploring.

A female stands successful beforehand of a bath mirror, staring astatine her reflection.

Lily Sullivan is forced to face her ain past successful "Monolith". Credit: Well Go USA

Is Monolith's ending satisfactory?

The tricky point astir films that inquire large questions is that you inevitably extremity up wanting a large answer. You want to cognize if nan conspiracy is real, aliases if thing otherworldly exists, moreover if that’s not nan main constituent of nan film. Monolith falls into this category, and its ending will subsequently disagreement people. Without going excessively acold into spoiler territory there's an underlying ambiguity to nan movie that doesn't vanish by nan extremity credits. But arguably nan communicative is arsenic overmuch astir intelligence illness, our pasts, and nan devastating effect some these things tin person connected america successful nan present, arsenic it is astir nan anticipation of an extraterrestrial conspiracy. The film's ambiguous reside allows these themes to beryllium explored simultaneously, and activity successful a acheronian harmony together.

Ultimately, Monolith is simply a movie of unease. It builds and builds and, for illustration nan protagonist's questions astir nan mysterious objects and her ain past, it doesn't spell away.

How to watch: Monolith is successful theaters from Feb 16.

Mashable Image

Sam Haysom is nan Deputy UK Editor for Mashable. He covers intermezo and online culture, and writes scary fabrication successful his spare time.

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