A group of people find themselves
trapped and rapidly aging on a mysterious beach in writer/director M Night
Shyamalan's flawed but intriguing new horror thriller Old.
A married couple (Gael Garcia Bernal,
Vicky Krieps), about to divorce, take their children (played at different ages
by different actors) to a resort. After the hotel manager recommends a secluded
beach to them, they (and the other unlucky souls on the beach) find they cannot
leave and their aging processes have all dramatically sped up.
Shyamalan does a good job of creating a
sense of growing dread. In many ways, Old suggests that growing old and
growing up is its own form of horror. The script makes us care about the main
characters enough that there's a poignancy to the proceedings throughout even
as the horror increases (there are two genuinely creative but grizzly death
scenes in the film's second half).
However, in some ways it feels like this might have been a better Twilight Zone episode instead of a feature film. The final 20 minutes or so overexplains the proceedings. The pat ending may derail the film for some viewers. But in an era where so many films feel like they're coming off an assembly line, Old at least feels different. And while Shyamalan's made a few terrible films in his career, Old still feels like the work of a confident, talented filmmaker, even when it steps wrong. Its uniqueness is enough to elevate it from 2.5 to 3 stars in my book.