TL;DR – A film that is equal parts engaging and unsettling
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Disclosure – I was sent a screener of this film
Old Review –
If there is one filmmaker who knows Hollywood’s very heights and depths, it’s M. Night Shyamalan. But no matter if his films work or not, they are always impeccable shot and are at least trying to be more than the sum of their parts. So when you hear that he is diving back into the horror world or at least the supernatural world, well, it makes you want to see at least what he has made.
So to set the scene, we open in on a family as they make their way by coach to the Anamika Resort on some tropical island. While the parents, Guy (Gael García Bernal) and Priscilla (Vicky Krieps), put on a good show for their kids Maddox (Alexa Swinton) and Trent (Nolan River). This was, in fact, the last holiday before the parents separate, so they are trying to make it a good memory. While at the resort, the manager suggests that they all go to a private beach that they are only opening for select guests, all you have to do is walk through a small canyon, and you are there. It is a beautiful day at the beach, right up until a body floats ashore.
If there is one word I would use to describe this film, it would be unsettling. That is because aging is the one thing that is the constant reminder of death, and it is universal.No matter who you are, entropy comes for us all, well, at least for the moment. This fear makes the guiding concept for this film very easy to process and then internalise as you could see it happening to you. Even before we get to the beach, there is a lot of pain in this film, like the parents hiding their divorce, but the kids still know. The hurt of knowing things are slipping away from you in your life. This would be enough to work through even without the constant threat in this film, a threat constantly ticking away in the background. So you get the slow passage of time reflected in all the characters and then the harsh moments of horror like beachside surgery.
What sets this apart is that there is never a frame in this film where they don’t take the interesting option. Framing just a quarter of a face as the character slips further into their own minds, a crash of waves is used as symbolism, and the tyranny of distance. Where you see this worked to the extreme is in the single takes that spin around and weave through the cast as people slowly age. This, added with a musical score that is constantly unsettling, creates these moments of sheer weirdness. All of this is framed from a more intimate perspective as the film sits us in one location, not letting us or those that will slowly die to escape what is coming. The cameras filming it all becomes just another level of voyeurism that condemns both the people engaging in this and those watching it a bit.
While I found myself being compelled throughout this film, some issues did pop up enough that they became noticeable. The first is the dialogue that spends a lot of the time feeling out of place. While some of this is explained by kids being in more mature bodies than they should generally be. This does not define a lot of the other dialogue in this film that is just awkward. As well as this, it also hangs some of its characters like Chrystal (Abbey Lee) on some broad stereotypes, which does not help the film. Finally, while I liked the ending, I think it will be the most subjective part of the whole film, and I am unsure how others will take it.
In the end, do we recommend Old? This is such an odd film that it becomes difficult to recommend to people because it does not neatly fit into any genre. Maybe the closest is that it is a slasher film where the killer is time? But then the fact it is so odd and unable to be put in a neat box makes it more of a movie to recommend because of its uniqueness. If you liked this film, I would also recommend to you The Invisible Man.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Old
Directed by – M. Night Shyamalan
Screenplay by – M. Night Shyamalan
Based on – Sandcastle by Pierre Oscar Levy & Frederik Peeters
Music by – Trevor Gureckis
Cinematography by – Mike Gioulakis
Edited by – Brett M. Reed
Production/Distribution Companies – Perfect World, Blinding Edge Pictures & Universal Pictures
Starring – Gael García Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Rufus Sewell, Ken Leung, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Abbey Lee, Aaron Pierre, Alex Wolff, Emun Elliott, Gustaf Hammarsten, Nolan River, Luca Faustino Rodriguez, Eliza Scanlen, Kyle Bailey, Mikaya Fisher, Kathleen Chalfant, Thomasin McKenzie, Embeth Davidtz, Alexa Swinton, Francesca Eastwood, Kailen Jude & M. Night Shyamalan
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: 14A; Germany: 16; New Zealand: na; United Kingdom: 15; United States: PG-13
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