Monolith - FrightFest UK Premiere
Director: Matt Vesely
Starring: Lily Sullivan, Ling Cooper Tang, Ansuya Nathan, Terence Crawford
Written by: Lucy Campbell
Produced by: Bettina Hamilton
Cinematography by: Michael Tessari
Original Score by: Benjamin Speed
A journalist attempts to salvage her career when she hits on a story about a strange object suddenly ruining people’s lives and shares her investigation on her new podcast.
I had to take a little longer than normal to process my thoughts before writing these words about 'Monolith', a film starring one actor set in one location about one increasingly, incomprehensible mystery. It's tense and while the pieces of the puzzle unravel provocatively slow, the finale is very unsettling.
Lily Sullivan stars as The Interviewer, a disgraced journalist attempting to rebuild her legitimacy as a reporter and re-establish a pubic following in the aftermath of some controversial accusations and apparent unethical misconduct. She's lost her job at the newspaper and now, having set up an impressive homemade studio at her vacationing parents lavish, isolated home, she has taken a job producing content for a podcast called 'Beyond Believable', which dedicates it's air time to unsolved and unexplainable mysteries.
Feeling the pressure from her superior to deliver something, she scours through her hate mail and notices a cryptic message about a woman whose life was turned upside down because of a peculiar object; an ominous black brick. Realising that there could be more to this than meets the eye, the nameless interviewer contacts the woman which sets her off down a rabbit hole of anxiety inducing revelations about the object that effects her own life more than she could ever have envisioned.
Matt Vesley's debut feature film is a tight, quasi sci-fi mystery that hooks you in immediately and keeps you hanging on for most of it's runtime. Set entirely inside the Interviewer's clearly extravagant and not so humble abode, complete with floor to ceiling glass windows and expansive open spaces filled with minimalistic but expensive furniture, 'Monolith' ironically creates a rather claustrophobic atmosphere. As the mystery unfolds, the Interviewer's paranoia and mistrust begins to swell and the huge house feels like it gets smaller and smaller as the enormity of what she might be uncovering gets bigger and bigger.
The film might not have worked had Lily Sullivan not been leading the way. With the exception of some phone call voice recordings, she is the only actor in the entire film and the only presence onscreen and she's an absolute revelation here. Shot long before her mammoth performance in Lee Cronin's brilliant 'Evil Dead Rise' Sullivan proves here just why she was being hailed as the next big thing. She grasps the challenge firmly with both hands and at no point was I getting bored of seeing her face or hearing her voice. Her nuanced facial expressions and reactive responses kept the conversations between her and her interviewees intriguing even when they began to feel repetitive. As the film progresses she becomes a captive to every bit of new information she receives and so her performance is unwaveringly captivating.
Bolstered by an uneasy, subtle score from Benjamin Speed and a gripping script from feature film first timer Lucy Campbell, 'Monolith' analyzes the relationship we have with internet rumours, innuendo and misinformation and how it can spiral into our own lives and leave an unrepairable mark.
- Gavin Logan
'Monolith' received it UK Premiere at FrightFest '23 on August 26th