Title – Old (2021)
Director – M. Night Shyamalan (Signs)
Cast – Gael García Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Rufus Sewell, Alex Wolff, Thomasin McKenzie, Abbey Lee, Ken Leung, Eliza Scanlan
Plot – On an idyllic secluded beach, a group of strangers quickly realize their water paradise is in fact a dangerous death trap that see’s them age years in mere hours.
“Dad, why are you looking at me like that?”
Review by Eddie on 30/07/2021
When it comes to M. Night Shyamalan films, life really is like a box of chocolates in that you just genuinely don’t know what you’re going to get.
There’s the oh so sweet (The Sixth Sense), the decent (Split) and then there’s some real sour taste flavors (The Happening/The Last Airbender) that make the topsy turvey director one of the most unpredictable working in the Hollywood system.
Going about things his own way over the last few years with self-financed low budget projects that can turn a profit with the smallest of success, Shyamalan does what he has rarely done in his career previously by here stepping away from his own material too adapt graphic novel Sandcastle that was created by Pierre-Oscar Lévy and Frederick Peeters, creating one of the strangest and most jaw-dropping Hollywood films you’re likely to catch at the cinema this year in the form of Old.
Rounding up a cast loaded with A-grade talent if not exactly household names, Shyamalan takes his stacked ensemble to a secluded beach that one first step onto its shores appears to be sometime of island paradise but is anything but as our collection of hotel guests quickly discover that the beach they are trapped on is one where years pass by in minutes as they race a raging biological clock before they turn to bones and dust.
A hybrid of a meditative drama on aging that has significant thriller and horror moments, Old holds within it the very best and very worst of Shyamalan the filmmaker (including a significant role Shyamalan gives himself, instead of one of his regular cameos) with some moments of this film easily Razzie worthy with others genuinely disturbing and memorable creating a frustrating experience that is always engaging in its unpredictability but one that flounders too often to be considered close to good in the true sense of the word.
An easily identifiable flaw too the film that rears its head far too often is Shyamalan’s suspect script.
Dealing with some scenes that even the most respected of directors would struggle to bring to life confidently (honestly some scenes in this film are beyond description), Shyamalan and his cast, that is best lead by Bernal in a rare Hollywood leading man role and Alex Wolff getting to play a 6 year old turned teenage boy, can’t always get the audience on board with what the characters in Old are dealing with or how they go about dealing with it and while you’ll often be unnerved and on edge, you wish more of the film had managed to gel together in a more finely tuned manner.
As is often the case with a Shyamalan film, the film that lays before us lives and dies on its finale and that’s another aspect of Old that will be up for debate for some time as while in some ways it makes what has happened before it make more sense, there’s a lot of unanswered questions and suspect flippancy that does make you wish for a more shocking and water cooler worthy explanation.
Final Say –
You’ve never seen a film like Old before making it an intriguing offering but there’s too much here that doesn’t work and feels half-explored to make this latest Shyamalan ride something special.
2 1/2 rusty knives out of 5