|Directed by:||M. Night Shyamalan|
|Written by:||M. Night Shyamalan|
|Starring:||Gael García Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Rufus Sewell, Ken Leung, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Abbey Lee|
|Released:||July 22, 2021|
On the recommendation of the resort manager, two families and two other couples visit a beautiful beach surrounded by an unusual rock formation. It takes a while for them to realise what’s going on but there’s something funky about the beach and it’s causing them to age at a rate of roughly 2 years per hour. Unless they can find a way to escape (all obvious exits prove fruitless), they’ll have all died of old age in just over a day.
It’s an intriguing setup and it’s no surprise to see it come from the mind of Oscar nominated director M. Night Shyamalan, the man responsible for thrillers including The Sixth Sense, The Visit and Split. It won’t take long for audiences to be asking themselves the same questions – what’s with the beach, who’s responsible, why have these people been chosen, and will they escape? If you’ve seen the trailers and TV advertisements, you’ll probably have these questions front of mind before the opening titles.
I didn’t mind the punchline (which I won’t spoil) but everything else is frustrating and tedious. If you’re going to make me wait 90 minutes for a worthy finale, at least give me interesting characters to care about in the lead up. That’s the biggest issue with Old. These people are so bland and boring to listen to. Fleeting backstories are established (e.g. a marriage on the rocks) that end up having no relevance and, given their respective professions, it’s surprising how clueless and clouded they are when it comes to good decision making.
The film’s other major problem is making the idea look convincing on screen. As the children age noticeably, Shyamalan tries to be creative with obscured camera angles (so as to avoid casting 10 different people in the same role) but it becomes a distraction. It’s also hard to understand the super-fast ageing process. I can see the physical transformation but how are these people, particularly the kids, growing so quickly in terms of knowledge and maturity without life experience? The more you think about it, the less sense it starts to make.
Shyamalan will continue to make interesting films but when his career is said and done, this is will be forgettable entry on his resume.