Monolith Review: Unravelling a mystery one brick at a time -

Monolith Review: Unravelling a mystery one brick at a time

Lily Sullivan is in search of unsolved mystery brick-bait for her podcast in sci-fi thriller, Monolith

Cliffhangers, red herrings and clickbait – the world of unsolved mystery podcasts have an innate ability to grab you and suck you in. An addictive trait that director Matt Vesely and screenwriter Lucy Campbell capitalise on in their debut feature, Monolith.

The movie tells the story of an acclaimed podcast journalist in hiding following some serious backlash from her last successful season where her research was called into question and is now on the hunt for her next big story. Desperate for something that will help her ascend back to the top of the charts and allow her to bury the mistakes of her past, she pours over countless hate-email and finds in the inbox an anonymous message with just the name Florame and the phrase ‘The Brick’.

Having tracked down Florame, the interviewer innocuously asks about The Brick and immediately touches on a sensitive topic. Pressing the subject, it seems that 20 or so years ago, Florame received a Brick that was blacker than anything she’d ever seen and seemingly possessive of some sort of power intrinsically linked to her. But when the Brick is subsequently stolen and sold as a valuable rare art commodity, Florame’s life quickly breaks apart, much like the conversation. After having manipulated her guest into telling her story with promises of trust and integrity, the call is swiftly edited down to twist the story to deliver the podcaster’s next surefire hit.

Once the episode is published, we fall down the rabbit hole with the interviewer, discovering that many more people have received Bricks but no one seems to want to talk about where they came from and all of them struggle to articulate what power over them the object seems to possess. Despite her newfound success, the interviewer is driven slowly mad by her desperate attempt to ride the wave of success and to uncover what it all means.

Vesely uses the movie’s restrictive setting and its sparse cast to his advantage, capitalising on the constrained situation to deliver truly intense and streamlined storytelling. Campbell’s screenplay expertly guides the audience through the immersive narrative, pulling you into the unexplained mystery and delivering multiple twists and repeatedly wrong-footing you in unexpected ways.

Shot in grey-blue tones that emphasise the isolation and cabin fever themes, Evil Dead Rise’s Lily Sullivan admirably shoulders this one-woman show, starring as the unnamed interviewer. Unlike many other ‘locked room’ style mysteries, Vesely manages to balance the intense close-up camera work without it ever encumbering to a fatiguing effect.

Many threads are pulled on throughout the movie, with themes of class divide and social commentary never quite landing, but the level of intrigue around the mystery of The Brick is a solid anchoring point to the story and delivers a satisfying end that will make you want to subscribe for more.

Monolith is on UK and Ireland digital platforms from 26 February. Read our interview with star Lily Sullivan here.

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