Based on the Graphic Novel: Sandcastle by Pierre Oscar Lévy and Frederik Peeters the premise of Old is pretty simple: several families find themselves stranded in a tropical paradise when things go horribly wrong, and everyone starts aging, in some cases to death. While not a perfect movie, Old is a continuing sign that M. Night Shyamalan has gone back to basics, in a good way, so let’s get into it.
Right from the start you can tell this film is going to rest heavily on the performances so it’s a good thing that each actor is up to the task. The cast, led by the wonderful Vicky Krieps and the always amazing Gael Garcia Bernal, commit fully to the building terror of the circumstances they’re surrounded by. In particular, among the adults, Abbey Lee gives a truly harrowing turn as a trophy wife who genuinely loves her spouse even if she knows he only sees her as an object.
Then there’s the actors cast as the children of this story, who start at the ages of four, six and eleven and age up from there. Each actor chosen for the different stages of physical growth of the children does a fantastic job of maintaining the mannerisms of the original three, while showing that, even if their bodies have grown, their minds are taking a while to catch up.
There’s a difference between being smart and being clever and unfortunately, in far too many films M. Night Shyamalan chooses the latter. This film suffers from that in places, pulling you out of the very real and grounded performances so we can get camera tricks, unnecessary close ups and, at one point, one of the most surreal body horror moments ever.
When this film keeps its focus on the families on the beach, the very complicated interpersonal dynamics going on between them, and its commentary on race and society, it really, really works and you’re reminded of just what M. Night is capable of.
Overall this film is a thought provoking treatise on not wasting the time you have with the ones you love…wrapped in a genuinely frightening psychological horror.
3.5 Drinks out of 5
Thank you to Allied Global Marketing for the preview