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“Old” Newest From M. Night Shyamalan

 

 

Review by Thomas Delia

“Old” is the newest feature film from famous suspense horror director M Night Shyamalan. The movie invites audiences onto the excursion from hell as select families are invited to a secluded beach where, unbeknownst to them, time runs much faster than normal. As usual for an M Night film, the director himself makes a cameo as the bus driver dropping off his own characters onto the dangerous beach. The audience is then invited to follow a diverse group of vacationers as their body’s age with incredible speed on a cove that looks straight out of a vacation catalogue. There is the classic “M Night twist” at the end that tries to give an explanation for what the audience is forced to sit through, but it is barely worth the wait.

(from left) Maddox (Thomasin McKenzie) and Mid-Sized Sedan (Aaron Pierre) in Old, written for the screen and directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

M Night does a good job finding a center for his film by focusing the action on a family of four, parents Guy and Prisca and their two children Trent and Maddox. The father of our central family unit Guy, played by actor Gael Garcia Bernal, anchors the cast with a solid performance based around the horror happening on the sands around him. As Guy ages, Gael does a great job using his performance to communicate the subtle changes that happen as we grow old.

The other noteworthy performance within the film comes from Rufus Sewell who devours his role as a schizophrenic doctor named Charles and brings an additional air of savagery and danger to “Old”. The rest of the cast ends up being quite forgettable and never rises above the level of a made for TV movie. Actress Abbey Lee, who plays the wife Chrystal of our schizophrenic doctor Charles, performs her best Jamie Pressley impression throughout the 108-minute runtime that consistently falls flat. M Night also puts a large amount of focus on the performances of the younger children, but the child actors cannot carry the weight they are given.

(from left) Patricia (Nikki Amuka-Bird) and Jarin (Ken Leung) in Old, written for the screen and directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

The film itself doesn’t know who its main antagonist is. When an audience sits down to see the newest incarnation of the Halloween franchise it’s keenly apparent that Michael Myers is the person who will be bringing the horror and suspense to the film. Throughout the first 98 minutes of “OLD” our villain is time. This malevolent and unimpeded passage of time turns normal afflictions like Osteoporosis and a benign tumor into rapidly evolving issues that are the reason the audience came to see the film in the first place. My own greatest issue with the movie is that in the process of explaining the purpose for what was happening on the beach it undercuts the message of the entire film and leaves the viewer with an overwhelming question of Why. M Night once again fails by trying to be too smart with his ending instead of letting the film rest on its own merits.

(from left) Prisca (Vicky Krieps), Maddox (Thomasin McKenzie), Guy (Gael García Bernal) and Trent (Luca Faustino Rodriguez) in Old, written for the screen and directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

On the spectrum of M Night films “Old” ends up being a single grain of sand, but at least better than “Lady in the Water”. My rating 2/5

Additional Film Information:
Cast:  Gael García Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Rufus Sewell, Alex Wolff, Thomasin McKenzie, Abbey Lee, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Ken Leung, Eliza Scanlen, Aaron Pierre, Embeth Davidtz, Emun Elliott
Directed and written by: M. Night Shyamalan
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for strong violence, disturbing images, suggestive content, partial nudity and brief strong language
Running Time: 1 hr. 48 min.
Opening Date: July 23, 2021
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Released in: Theaters

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