Monolith (2016) (mini-review++)

(If you’re curious, my review process. It’s also pasted at the end of this post. I don’t believe in Rotten Tomatoes. I just believe in me.)

(***all-purpose SPOILER ALERT*** there may be some in this review)

acting 6

directing 6

effects 6

editing 5

writing 5

SW SCORE: 28

2.5 out of 5 🐙

++

Monolith is a story set in a near future where a car model named ‘Monolith’ has been released. It brags that it is the safest car ever made. It has military grade panels and windows that cannot be broken by bullets. It’s tires are also bullet proof and its undercarriage is impenetrable. But it’s not all brawn. It comes with an intelligent operating system, Lillith, that could get coffee with the OS in Her or Iron Man‘s artificial intelligence ‘Jarvis’.

The impulse to take this new panic room on wheels for a spin is jealousy. Sandra (Katrina Bowden) believes her husband Roy (Jay Hayden) is cheating on her. Ivan Silvestini, the director, made it ambiguous as to whether her fears were founded. But I think he made it too ambiguous. I was left with the impression that her husband was not cheating at all. This made her subsequent freak outs and rages annoying, and I lost all my sympathy for her character. I couldn’t help but think that if she hadn’t given into this lightly founded distrust, none of this would have happened. 

Sandra brings their toddler son with her, which is all well and good; it’s hard to find a sitter. But the foreshadowing was pretty blatant that this kid was going to cause serious drama. As fate would have it, their route took them through a desolate desert where there would be no one around to help them. This makes sense. It wouldn’t be a very interesting thriller if they broke down in the parking lot of a McDonald’s. The strongest bit of terror in the film comes in the parking lot of a convenience store. An incredibly creepy, ghastly hipster punk confronts Sandra and wants her to join him and his even more creepy friend and their two creepy female friends on a road trip. They don’t care that she has a baby. She barely gets into the car in time to prevent the more creepy friend from opening the car door. She takes off out of the parking lot and I felt these horrible guys would have to make an appearance later. I didn’t want to see them again, and that’s a fair indication that they were drawn well and played well. 

As they make their way into the heart of the signal-less desert, the baby begins to cry from impatience, Sandra hands him her smartphone, like many exasperated parents have done, to mollify him. The toddler quickly happens on to the app that controls the car’s security system.

You can probably guess what happens next. An accident occurs, partially brought about by the supposedly super-intelligent Lillith, and partially brought about by Sandra’s mood changes that seem to jump from serene to furious in barely any time at all. When she exits the car to investigate, the toddler arms the car’s security system. The car’s energy and fuel begins dwindling and the heat of the desert begins to cook the car. Sandra’s seemingly impossible goal is to penetrate the impenetrable and save her baby’s life. I couldn’t help but think of Cujo. A very similar race against time dynamic is the backbone of that horror classic. And in a potential homage to Stephen King’s story, a wild dog, maybe a coyote, appears.

I won’t tell you how or if Sandra and her baby make it out of this pickle. I will say that the movie does not live up to the intimidating title. The acting is ok. It’s certainly better than many B movies. But the dialogue is clunky, and the climax is bizarre, a bit too deus ex machina, and disappointing.

 

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(1) Shark Wrighter (SW) Score: Based on a sum of 5 sub-scores (acting, directing, writing/story, effects: cinematography &/or animation &/or effects, editing) with 1 being terrible and 10 being terrific.

 

(2) Octopuses (0-5 🐙, with 5 being fantastic and 0 being feces)

 

(3) Octopuses are my unquantifiable feeling…not that SW score is scientific…but this one is even less so

 

(4) ++ This optional section includes any incredibly *brilliant observations that don’t fit into simple quantitative slices like the scores and octopuses *(they are likely NOT brilliant)

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