Old Review

I like M Night Shyamalan’s work. I really do. But sometimes he makes it so difficult and OLD sees him plumb new cinematic depths of what-the-fuckery, as he again adapts somebody else’s work and presents me with my biggest challenge yet.

When a group of holidaymakers are told of a secluded beach by their hotel concierge, they think they’re in for a day of uninterrupted bliss. But the beach harbours a deadly secret and as the unlucky guests find themselves suffering the ravages of time at an alarming rate, their day at the beach becomes a desperate struggle for survival.

OLD looks pretty enough – when Shyamalan can keep his camera still enough for you to enjoy the view – but that’s pretty much it. It feels like a first draft that skipped the polishing and revision phase and just went straight in front of the cameras. Perhaps it was a very rushed production, which would certainly explain the stilted performances from the cast who all deliver career-worst performances as they struggle futilely with dialogue that will make you, the viewer, long for the sweet release of death and the high-speed hardships of old age will feel like a small price to pay to get it over with.

A riff on LOST that quickly loses its way, OLD is plagued by inconsistent plotting and the conveniently variable effect of its MacGuffin – able to disintegrate a body in minutes and propel young children through puberty into adulthood in a couple of hours yet leaves picnic hampers of food unmolested and still edible after the equivalent of years.

There’s no denying its central concept is a good one, ripe for storytelling (STAR TREK has used it more than a couple of times) but it’s so clumsily developed. It eschews insightful commentary on the trials and tribulations of the ageing process, the folly of youth, the benefits of wisdom and the myriad of ways our experiences shape us in favour of teeing up a succession of gross-out shock moments before chickening out at the last minute and swinging the camera away. Shyamalan doesn’t have the courage of Aster’s convictions.

I owe THE HAPPENING an apology. It’s no longer M Night Shyamalan’s worst film: OLD is.

score 2



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