- Written, Directed, and Produced by M. Night Shyamalan
- Based on the French-language Swiss graphic novel ‘Sandcastle’ by Pierre Oscar Levy and Frederik Peeters
- July 19, 2021 (Jazz at Lincoln Center) / July 23, 2021 (US)
A group of tourists from a resort finds themselves aging rapidly while on a secluded beach.
Old is yet another weird and twisty Twilight Zone-esque film from M. Night Shyamalan. This film uses rapid aging, which is a variation on the ticking clock, to up the tension and center the story around.
At the beginning of the film, I had flashes of Vivarium which for me was a subpar horror film a few years back. I don’t know what made me think that, but my mind immediately assumed this was going to be some weird alien thing similar to what happened in that film. Don’t know why. Anybody else get that vibe? Mercifully I was wrong.
The story focuses on a disparate group of resort patrons purposely stranded on a beach for an undisclosed purpose where they age rapidly. The first individual we meet in the film is a rapper called Mid-Sized Sedan (Aaron Pierre), whose real name is Brendan. He is sitting on a beach looking rather serious when we first see him.
Later he is joined by Guy (Gael García Bernal) and Prisca (Vicky Krieps) and their two children Trent and Maddox, Charles (Rufus Sewell) and his mother Agnes (Kathleen Chalfant) along with his wife Chrystal (Abbey Lee) and daughter Kara, and Patricia (Nikki Amuka-Bird) and Jarin (Ken Leung) Carmichael. As the story unfolds there is the reveal of the personalities and the problems that go along with them but those things are a bit of a misdirection for what is really important.
As the narrative unfolds we learn that at least one from each group there have a medical condition. Mid-Sized Sedan has hemophilia. Prisca has a stomach tumor that she thought benign. Charles is a surgeon battling schizophrenia. Chrystal has hypocalcemia which is low calcium levels in the blood. And Patricia has epilepsy.
If this film is about anything it is about pharmaceutical companies viewing people solely as a source of profit. This beach with its rapid aging has been turned into a place for the nameless company to conduct years long medical studies in a day. The film is also about dysfunctional relationships. I do not think there is a truly healthy one to be found here.
I just don’t get the logic though-at least from the side of the pharmaceutical company behind all this. How do you learn anything if you have five or six people with five or six different illnesses? You could learn something if you had several people with the same illness present. And if years happen in a compressed time would you not need for these people to be guzzling the meds you are testing? That’s my major issue with this.
There are very disparate personalities and that makes the personal situation degenerate fast and the deaths from their ailments rather graphic. Chrystal’s death was rather disturbing. Not that her husband Charles faired much better. Imagine dying from rapid tetanus?
I wanna call this harm move a horror movie but it would be best to call it more of a very weird movie. There are shocking moments but nothing that will creep you out. It is more unsettling. Shyamalan manages to make things feel unusual from the start.
The science they use as an explanation is a little shaky but it is presented well enough that you will be able to suspend your disbelief and buy into the environment that they got. The script is solid enough and the performances strong enough that you get past any issues.
I won’t call Old great but I will call it entertaining. It’s an interesting premise that uses the ticking clock idea in an entertaining way. I think you should check this out.