Monolith (2016)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Monolith</strong> (2016)

(On Cable TV, February 2019) Movies have always betrayed our not-so-hidden anxieties, and as we increasingly rely on automated systems for ever-more mundane tasks, I expect to see more movies along the lines of Monolith in the coming years … but I hope they will be better than this one. Here, we chain up the ANDs in order to get to our premise: A woman AND a toddler travel through the desert with a car that’s both automated AND armoured. They are alone AND on an off-road route AND it’s getting hot AND the kid is asthmatic AND she gets locked out of the car while the kid’s inside AND coyotes are around AND so on. That’s a whole lot of ANDs to contrive a desperate situation, but Monolith would be far better if it actually focused on the basics before multiplying the irrelevant background details and subplots. Our mother is an ex-rock star AND her husband is unfaithful but little of that actually matters once we are finally in the desert. Even worse: Monolith keeps breaking its own time/space unity. It’s as if writer/director Ivan Silvestrini didn’t have enough faith in his own halfway-interesting core premise (woman against armoured car!) and kept trying to juice it up with useless peripheral complications. Even with those, it’s easy to see where things are going, until the film gets tired of itself and throws up an ending just to be done. It really doesn’t help that the protagonist is relentlessly, almost intentionally unlikable, making dumb decisions that keep putting herself and her son even deeper in trouble. The dialogue is clunky, and the film never manages to do justice to its own premise or to go beyond the basics to offer a more rounded experience. It does have interesting cinematography, though, including some spectacular drone footage—further showing that these are now well-within the reach of low-budget filmmakers. I just wish that the result would have been better. This is the second unrelated low-budget “Monolith”-titled film that I’ve seen, and neither of them are good.

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