M. Night Shyamalan is an American director who is quite well known for his thriller and suspense movies that keep the audience on edge. He has always given us a taste of the unknown and his endings are widely talked about, whether for good reasons or bad. Due to this, “Old” doesn’t manage to age well, as it doesn’t tick all the boxes of a good M. Night Shyamalan movie.
“Old” stands on the bizarre side of the spectrum like every M. Night Shyamalan movie. It follows the theme of extraordinary events in an unworldly world. The story is provocative and clever in its own sense. It tries to follow an emotional path but stumbles a little on its way. The enticing premise of the movie is what keeps it together.
The movie begins with a great cast, something you might see in an Agatha Christie book. The opening scene consists of Guy(Gael García Bernal), Prisca (Vicky Krieps), Trent, 6, (Nolan River), and Maddox, 10, (Alexa Swinton) going on a vacation, something they very much need ( Something we all need to be honest) as a family. And like every other suspense and horror movie this family also finds themselves in a peculiar situation, because of some low-cost “Online” bargain. The resort manager tells them about a secluded beach where they can avoid the tourist crowd and here Shyamalan gets his iconic cameo when he leads the characters straight to their doom.
They are joined there by another family a doctor named Charles (Rufus Sewell), his wife Chrystal (Abbey Lee), his mother Agnes (Kathleen Chalfant), and his daughter Kara (Mikaya Fisher). Some other people at the beach include Jarin (Ken Leung) and Patricia (Nikki Amuka-Bird) and a rapper named Mid-Sized Sedan (Aaron Pierre), who looks suspicious at first glance.
I would like to mention that during the whole film I felt like the beach and the steep stone also became an integral part of the film. They added a sense of the dark and dangerous beauty to the movie, something very important in M. Night Shyamalan’s film.
After spending a few hours at the beach, things start getting a bit weird and the plot a little more interesting. They find a dead body that looks like it has been decomposing for seven years, when they try to walk back outside of the beach they feel faint and wake up back on the beach again. What really puts the pin in, that something is wrong, is Trent and Maddox suddenly becoming significantly older. The adults face their own issues when wrinkles, hearing loss, vision impairment, dementia all start to make themselves known.
They finally figure out that they have been aging quite rapidly, where half-hour on the beach is equal to one year. Now the question is how many more hours they can last. When they age 48 years in just 24 hours.
The major emotional aspect that the story tries to tackle is, what would you do if you had just one day to live? Now, this could have been an interesting moral at the end. Seeing how most of the movies of M. Night Shyamalan are inspired from the Twilight Zone, which contains a surprise ending and moral at the end, apart from its suspense, paranormal, and thrill-based adventures.
But what the movie fails to inspire is an interest in the character. We don’t particularly care for the characters to feel bad for them. The soccer ball-sized tumor removed from the stomach, the miraculous pregnancy, the murder are more like comic relief than relationship-building plotlines. “Old” fails to give us a reason to care for the characters and hence fails in its moral aspect.
Now let’s talk about the ending. With Shyamalan’s Sense, The Village, The Visit and Split we are quite used to the shocking twist and turns that follow in the movie. We are also quite used to endings that leave our mouths hanging open, while this is a reputation-making credit it can also lead to the downfall of the movie. This is precisely what happened with Shyamalan’s “Old”. It presented us with a very neat bow-tied ending that was not something we demanded or expected.
Additionally, the ending comes very late into the movie. An hour and 48 mins are required to know who is behind this whole scheme. Which kind of makes us tired of waiting.
But on the other hand, “Old” breaks through every traditional concept. It plays very well to its name, as it dwells on the fear of aging, a fear we all are well acquainted with. The visuals of the movie are the most appealing as they bring out the somber aspect quite well. The framing is inspired as they reveal each new aspect in the movie with a well-versed fluidity.
This movie would have made it for me if it gave a more ambiguous ending and avoided the clunky dialogues. Inspired by the simplistic theme of Sandcastle by Pierre Oscar Lévy and Frederik Peeters, it was exactly suited for Shyamalan’s talent, Yet it couldn’t stand on the must-watch category.
Let us know if you think the same? Have you watched it, if yes then make sure you tell us your thoughts as well!