An unexplained force causes a group of vacationers to age rapidly on a private beach. Unable to escape, they struggle to understand exactly what’s at play. Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, Old follows a few recent hits by the filmmaker, which makes it so upsetting that this film disappoints. It has a concept so within reach, but it completely fails in its execution in almost every way.
Guy (Gael García Bernal) and his wife Prisca (Vicky Krieps) are looking forward to a memorable vacation with their two young children, Trent (Emun Elliott) and Maddox (Embeth Davidtz). Soon after their arrival, the resort manager gushes to them about a gorgeous secluded beach and offers to arrange transportation.
The family is thrilled to enjoy this special place, but are a bit surprised to find themselves joined by several other resort guests — all promised an exclusive day in the beautiful cove.
The kids happily play as the parents relax, but their excursion is quickly derailed when Trent discovers the body of a woman. As panic sets in, uncertain of what caused her death, the adults shockingly discover the children have grown, seemingly years in age. With a force preventing them from leaving, their desperation grows, as they attempt to find a way to break from whatever has affected them.
Overall the premise of Old, which was inspired by the graphic novel Sandcastle, is intriguing. Looking at the trailer, it feels like there’s a rich mystery there. However, the final product fails from start to finish. It’s almost difficult to decide where to begin in terms of where this film goes wrong.
For starters, the acting is abysmal. The kids hold their own, but it’s filled with poorly delivered lines otherwise. It was borderline emotionless and frustrating. Honestly, it rivals Shyamalan’s other disaster The Happening. There was at least one instance where I genuinely thought they edited out the remainder of a scene, due to such a painfully bad performance.
Speaking of editing and technical work, the film fails there too. Cuts are inconsistent and jumpy. The camera work is nauseating and extremely straining on the eyes. You could brush this off as an attempt to disorientate the viewer, but it does not sell that being the mission, nor does it excuse the poor quality.
Old also lacks a lot of what you’ve come to expect from Shyamalan. As someone famous for his twists, this film has none and an explanation of events pack a minimal punch. It’s an awkward film with mediocrity sprinkled throughout. If it was trying to present a message on aging and appreciating the “now”, it doesn’t hit the mark. The film could have had such success with the story it’s trying to tell, but it just didn’t.
Old hits theaters July 23rd