Old (2021)

Old (2021) Cover

M. Night Shyamalan's latest work is based on a graphic novel called Sandcastle by Pierre Oscar Levy and Frederik Peeters. Old is a film I was highly anticipating because the premise is one that seemed difficult to mess up due to its naturally mysterious intrigue. Despite the film's shortcomings, the film delivers mesmerizing fast-paced tension.

Gael García Bernal and Vicky Krieps portray a married couple who are on vacation at a resort with their children Trent and Maddox. The resort manager invites the family to a beach on the island that he claims is special. The invitation is not extended to all guests. Upon arriving, we are introduced to more people who are all about to experience a bizarre set of circumstances. As the kids rapidly become older-looking and taller, it is hypothesized that something about the beach is causing them to age rapidly. 

Old is not interested in developing strong characters and is something the film lacks. Despite all of these characters going through a traumatic experience, we know very little about each of them to care for any particular one. Nevertheless, all people can relate to the fear of aging rapidly and, despite not feeling a certain connection with anyone, the audience will still feel a sense of wonder about the choices the characters will choose to make in response to these events that are truly terrifying. 

A few eyebrows are raised as certain characters seem to age faster than others, particularly the kids. 4 actors are reserved for portraying children, Trent and Maddox, while the adults are all played by a single actor. While make-up work is used to age the adults, it is not convincing enough when you see how big the children are getting and despite that kids do naturally grow up faster there feels like almost nothing changed about the adult characters until further along the story. 

Tension and camera work is where Shyamalan's work excels. From discovering kids are now teens, suspecting beach peers may be the cause of the disaster, seeing a tumor grow rapidly- there’s a lot of compelling scenarios. 

Additionally, the pacing in the film is upbeat. Throughout the 1 hour and 48 minute duration, you can’t help but ask, “Why is this all happening? Is there a way for these characters to escape? What will happen in the end?” I was entertained for the majority of the film despite where the film drops the ball.

The ending will give you an answer that makes sense but one that is underwhelming. While the rest of the film feels original and different from other films, the ending feels like a safe standard way to end a horror film. 

Final Verdict:Despite a premise that traps itself from ending in any compelling way, Old is interestingly tense throughout its run time.