MONOLITH is an effective thrilling Italian entertainer made for Sky Pictures. Director Ivan Silverstrini loves and as well as knows how to tease his audience.
This, Silverstrini does at the start of the film. The MONOLITH car is explained, a 4 by 4 all terrain vehicle that can self-drive and enter into armour mode. The car is absolutely modern and protective but these features eventually cause deadly problems to Sandra. The car is so well explained that the film could pass off as a real documentary. (The narration at the start: With the MONOLITH, we introduce a car in the safest possible environment…). The film shifts gradually to horror mode.
The plot involves the safest car in the world turning into a death trap when Sandra (Katrina Bowden) and her son get into a car accident in the middle of a scorching desert. With her son gets trapped inside a car known for being bullet-proof, Sandra must fight to save him.
Silverstrini plays with the background in many instances. The first is observed when Sandra is video calling her husband and there is a knock on the door of the husband’s room. The audience never sees who is at the husband’s door and the audience hopes of course he is not cheating on Sandra. The person is never revealed. Another has her toddler son suddenly gone missing after a stop at a convenience store. She finds her son with three teens and pulls him apart from them scolding them. In reality the teens picked the kid up from wandering outside the store. “You are a bad mother,” quips one of them. As it turns out, Sandra is quite the bad mother. She also buys David a bag of marbles, and it is shown through the car’s rearview mirror that he is about to put one in his mouth. Sandra also smokes causing David to cough and keep letting him play ‘turtle’ on her cell phone to keep him quite, though resulting in a disaster. Yet she tries her best to be good mother and husband.
It is also good to see a male director deal so well with a female protagonist, giving Sandra a strong character though not without weaknesses. Bowden does a good job portraying the mother, down to a scantily lad outfit because of the desert heat. Silverstrini elicits a fantastic performance from the young child actor playing the son.
For this modern vehicle, the special effects provided are quite cheesy yet enhance the film’s entertainment value. The glowing ring, the tooting noises and the voice of ‘Lillith’ are hilarious.
The film’s genuinely scariest parts involve the car sliding backwards (the child locked inside) towards a cliff and the other with Sandra hiding underneath the vehicle with a hungry coyote looking for prey.
MONOLITH emerges as a very effective and satisfying low-budget film with a completely identifiable character with weaknesses that audiences can still root for. The film proves that a little imagination can go a long way in making an entertaining thriller.