An anxious young mother must fight for survival when she and her son become stranded in the dessert en route to Los Angeles when their state of the art car fails to protect them.
This Italian/American co-production directed by Ivan Silvestrini is a gut-wrenching and harrowing depiction of naturalistic horror as Sandra (Katrina Bowden- Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil) faces her worst nightmare as a parent. Monolith is the car of the future, it’s high-tech and has all the safety functions in place to guarantee protection for it’s passengers no matter what the situation.
With a siri-type voice function called Lilith (voiced by Katherine Kelly Lang) and a touch screen that controls speed, destination routes, music and phone calls, the Monolith can cater to the driver’s convenience. When we meet our protagonist, she is a frazzled young woman who struggles with her identity as a mother while longing for her past life as a famous singer.
With her toddler David (played by twins Nixon and Krew Hodges) strapped in the back seat, Sandra becomes increasingly paranoid following a video call with her husband Carl (Damon Dayoub) when she suspects him of being unfaithful. With that weight on her mind, she decides to surprise her unsuspecting husband and takes an impromptu trip to Los Angeles. In order to avoid the freeway traffic, Sandra takes a short cut under the instruction of the Monolith and this is where the real horror begins.
There’s an accident which leads to little David being trapped in the car with Sandra unable to get to him. The events that follow are compelling, agonizing and genuinely stomach churning.
Monolith plays on natural fears, there’s no boogeyman lurking in the shadows, this is a film about the lengths one woman would go to fight for her life and most importantly the life of her child. It’s also a film about our frightening reliance on technology and questions what would we do if something went wrong.
Katrina Bowden does an excellent job delivering an emotional performance, she conveys many different aspects to her character from selfishness to helplessness. She is on screen for the entirety of the film which is no easy feat but she manages to keep the audience engaged in her plight as her character wrestles with her conscience and plays out the darkest scenarios possible. As she acts alongside the child actors the relationship of mother and son has a believability to it making Bowden’s performance exceptional and one of the strongest of 2016 so far.
Monolith features some breathtaking scenery with the cinematography capturing the isolation of the dessert which compliments the sense of isolation endured by the protagonist. It’s well-paced and doesn’t drag on or go by too quickly. There are some upsetting scenes throughout as the film portrays a distressing situation. Monolith has a similar intensity to films such as 127 Hours (2010), the emotional impact conveyed is jaw dropping. There are some sickly sweet moments that come off as cheesy but on the whole it’s a very solid horror/thriller.
Another strong contender from 2016’s genre circuit, Monolith is about endurance and the horror of losing everything you love in the blink of an eye. For horror that plays on human instinct Monolith is a must-see.