Monolith is one of the dumbest movies I’ve ever seen and – god help me – I’m giving it a real recommendation the film should pride itself with.
Following other indie films featuring a trapped protagonist (Buried, Phone Booth, Open Water), Monolith features a mother (Sandra played by Katrina Bowden) trying to break into her car after she’s locked out on a deserted side road. It’s a thin premise that finds its stakes in its near-future period involving the fate of a child. The car is a state-of-the-art “smartcar” with artificial intelligence and heavy-duty protection. If your guessing the vehicle turns evil, you’re wrong. In fact, Sandra’s cure-as-a-button toddler – playing around on her phone after exiting a game app – is the one who accesses the car’s remote from the device and arms the vehicle. Racing the clock before night turns to scorching day, Sandra frantically thinks of a way to save her son.
Aside from her comic turn on NBC’s 30 Rock, Bowden has been typecast as eye candy (Sex Drive, Piranha 3DD). Monolith serves as a nice change for Bowden who does a very good job carrying her screen time as an unexpected heroine. That said, her character makes some awful decisions. The audience is supposed to support her, yet she makes desperate choices that leapfrog over more rational choices. Sandra’s parental adrenaline only works as an excuse for so long until the audience starts questioning her logic.
The again, logic isn’t really Monolith’s strength. The plot about saving a kid from an invincible car is properly concerning, but director/co-writer Ivan Silvestrini and his other screenwriters (Elena Bucaccio, Stefano Sardo, Mauro Uzzeo) stack the odds against them by clothing Sandra’s son in a thick, furry bear costume under these extreme circumstances. When they start cutting the characters some slack, it’s too late. The filmmakers also rely on a lot of conveniences to make their story move forward. Coincidences are one thing, but clunky plot devices that are triggered by peril are hard to disguise.
However, I give Monolith credit because it’s a lot of fun, and it is legitimately exciting when Sandra is left to think on her feet. The outcomes are not entirely satisfying, but Monolith is nerve-wracking and entertaining enough to keep movie goers thrilled.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie