“A vacationing family discovers that the secluded beach where they’re relaxing for a few hours is somehow causing them to age rapidly, reducing their entire lives into a single day.”

Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Writers: M. Night Shyamalan, Pierre-Oscar Lévy, Frederik Peeters
Staring: Gael García Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Rufus Sewell, Alex Wolff, Thomasin McKenzie, Abbey Lee, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Ken Leung, Aaron Pierre
Rated: PG-13
Release Date: July 23, 2021

A very off premise for a movie, but what else would you expect from M. Night Shyamalan.

Old primarily follows one family on vacation on a remote resort. The marriage between Guy (Gael García Bernal) and Prisca (Vicky Krieps) is on rocky grounds, but they are staying together for their children Trent and Maddox. This foursome is hoping this tropical paradise can restore some happiness to normality to their lives, but who really expected that to happen?

Things start to go amuck when the family is invited to a remote beach on the island, secluded from the resort and the majority of the other guests. Guy, Prisca, Trent and Maddox are joined by other characters who are crashing on the seemingly pristine sands. Charles (Rufus Sewell) and Chrystal (Abbey Lee) are married but unhappily. “Together” they are raising Kara, who is Charles’s biological daughter. Patricia (Nikki Amuka-Bird) suffers from seizures but her parter Jarin (Ken Leung) takes care of her. The surprise find on the beach is the young rapper Mid-Sized Sedan (Aaron Pierre).

This cohort of individuals first have their alarm bells raised when they find a dead body on the beach that is decomposing weirdly. Then all of a sudden the kids, become much older…and medical problems with nearly every individual begin multiplying. Everyone on the beach is aging rapidly. They are living their entire day in a single day.

Whoops, looks like we found a dead body.

A very intriguing premise. The execution? Well that is where M. Night Shyamalan tends to struggle a little. That trend continues here with Old. Something about the whole thing seemed…off. It is like being on a rocky boat that is going to be able to make it to port, but the herky-jerky motion of the ocean makes the whole trip rather enjoyable. The movie never sets itself to a certain cadence, which may very well be on purpose with the flux of time that Old is illustrating. Whether it be on purpose or not, the lack of stable footing affects the enjoyment of that rather cool concepts within.

Some of the consequences of the time change are shocking. The death of a newborn baby that is born within minutes of consummation is a twist. The bone breaking dysmorphia is the scariest of bit of the entire movie. Old plays with its premise well applying both body horror and psychological. Credit due where credit is due, the shocking moments were often, shocking, even those that were not directly impacted wby the beaches unique condition. When Kara dies falling off the face of the cliff it is a non-purposeful suicide. She perishes just minutes after burying her newborn. Not a happy time.

Thomasin McKenzie & Alex Wolff

The story of Old is interesting but not well executed in its fullest. Old has moments worthy of praise, but it is a large gap between the ceiling and the basement of entertainment. So we are riding right in the middle of the enjoyment meter, but credit needs to be paid for getting this unique cast together.

I am new Gael García Bernal but enjoyed his a lot in Station Eleven on HBO Max. Vicky Krieps is a new talent in my eyes, but she looks exactly like one of my friends. Like literally a mirror image. She has been in some movies I have seen like Hanna (2011) and Phantom Thread (2017), but I do not remember her specifically from them.

Refus Sewell will always be the asshole from A Knight’s Tale (2001) to me. Alex Wolff is an actor on the rise. First saw him in Hereditary (2018), then he was fine in Jumanji: The Next Level (2019) before appearing in another critical hit Pig (2021). He seems to be doing an early one-for-me and one-for-you in his career. Thus far it is working.

Thomasin McKenzie is doing a bang-up job of appearing in movies that I really like. The King (2019) was a noble attempt at excellence, all be it’s somewhat disappointing result. Jojo Rabbit was a huge swing and I think a damn near home run, but I say most people are fading the movie now. Last Night In Soho (2021) and Power Of The Dog (2021) in the same year? Yes ma’am I would call that successful.

Abbey Lee is stunningly beautiful, and she is really good and being unlikeable in Old. She was The Dag in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), which now makes me want to rewatch it. Avenue 5 on HBO Max introduced me to Nikki Amuka-Bird, and I have seen Ken Leung’s face plastered around TV shows before.

I know I am just doing a bit of cast vomit, but these actors are an eclectic bunch that work well together. There are no performances that stand out, but there are none that are sinking Old’s ship either.

Eliza Scanlen & Alex Wolff

Shyamalan has had some movies drown with their final twists. The Lady In The Water (2006), The Village (2004), and let’s not forget The Happening (2008) all struggle to leave you with anything but disappointment when the credits roll. Shyamalan had a bad spell in the middle of his career, but this resurgence over the last eight years or so has led to some soft round of applause from the public.

The twist at the end of Old is interesting and most importantly, not derailing. It pins a classic question for the audience: how much would you be willing to sacrifice for the betterment of humanity? Would not using the unique setting of the beach for the betterment of society be a waste of its traits?

Shyamalan has been rising back up the cultural rankings with his success of Split (2016) and Glass (2019). Old doesn’t have the same critical acclaim as that franchise he has broken out, but his newest movie Knock At The Cabin (2023) has gotten more buzz than I would have expected. Old is streaming on HBO Max, and Knock At The Cabin (2023) just arrived on Peacock.

STANKO RATING: C+ (2.5/5 Stars)

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