The Stream: Intriguing premise falls apart as it goes along.
The Big Screen: Great location and some tense moments keep your attention.
The Final Bill: An interesting set up fails to deliver the goods.– Trip Fontaine
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Writers: M. Night Shyamalan (written for the screen by), Pierre-Oscar Lévy (based on the graphic novel “Sandcastle” by), Frederick Peeters (based on the graphic novel “Sandcastle” by)
Stars: Gael García Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Rufus Sewell
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Runtime: 1 hour 43 minutes
Production Companies: Universal Pictures, Blinding Edge Pictures
Platform: Released in theaters July 23, 2021
Happy weekend, Streamers! The much-anticipated new movie from M. Night Shyamalan, Old, was released in theaters July 23, 2021. Shyamalan has a weird reputation marred by directorial inconsistencies from the highs of The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable to the lows of The Last Airbender and The Happening. From his filmography, the one thing you can say about Shyamalan is that he swings for the fences. In that regard, Old is no exception. I am usually up for giving Shyamalan a chance to surprise me. Here’s how he did with Old.
Shyamalan wrote the screenplay for Old based on a graphic novel. The story centers on a family, who takes a trip to a resort and ends up on an idyllic, secluded beach that isn’t what it seems. Very soon, the family, who are joined by fellow travelers to the resort, begins to realize that strange things are happening at the beach – mainly, the children begin to age rapidly. Then, they have to figure out what’s going on on this beach and why they cannot seem to leave. Shyamalan focuses on the emotional dynamics of the parents and children layering a family drama on top of the creepy thriller, and both sides are moderately successful.
The parents of the main family are played by Gael Garcia Bernal and Vicky Krieps. They are both fine, though I don’t believe them as any kind of couple. Bernal and Krieps, especially, do well with showing their growing concern about this strange beach as well as balancing the simmering turmoil underneath the surface of their marriage. Rufus Sewell and Aaron Pierre play pivotal roles as fellow travelers stranded on this beach. Each has creepy moments that they play to the hilt giving Old a horror movie edge that it needs.
Really, Old suffers because it feels like the movie is biding its time searching for an explanation to its premise. The dialogue throughout does too much forecasting about what’s to come without being more than just obvious breadcrumbs of things to come. There is one scene that addresses the emotional stakes of the movie, but it comes late in the game so hopefully you’re still attuned to what the film wants to say – particularly about aging. Unfortunately, the angst that is displayed as the film moves towards its finale does not pay off as it should – even though the cast does its best.
Ultimately, I cannot recommend paying even matinee prices for Old. I say grabbing a handful of popcorn should do it for Old as it’s not worth braving the confines of a dark theater. While there is an interesting premise here, Old does not rise above the level of window-dressing even though some actors really give their all. Give Old a shot when it appears on a streaming service – you may thank me.