The Reel Review
Just when you think M. Night Shyamalan can’t possibly make a movie worse than several of his prior stinkers, we give you Old. This tedious body horror/thriller is about tourists stranded on a remote, isolated beach where they age shockingly fast – for many, an entire lifetime in a day. It is loosely based on the 2010 graphic novel Sandcastle.
We could accept the preposterous premise if Shyamalan’s writing and directing was at least adequate, but this “Gilligan’s Island Gone Wild” feels like it was banged out on a cocktail napkin in about 15 minutes. It is shockingly stupid with cartoonish characters and an infuriatingly silly “twist” ending.
The vastly overqualified cast – which includes Vicky Krieps (Phantom Thread), Gael Garcia Bernal (Coco, Babel), Alex Wolff (Hereditary), Thomasin McKenzie (Jojo Rabbit) and Eliza Scanlen (Little Women) – seems resigned to their sad acting fate. They gamely go “all in,” as if vying for a prize for the most hysterical freakout during the surgical removal of a tumor that balloons into the size of a grapefruit in just seconds. Then there is a minutes long pregnancy and birth. (Yeah, he goes there.) Shyamalan’s never ending array of dizzying camera pans and amateurishly artsy closeups of body parts only heightens the unintended comic absurdity of it all.
Even Shyamalan’s now tired shtick of inserting himself in cameos (a la Alfred Hitchcock) in his movies has gone to a new extreme, with him casting himself as a full-on villain this go ‘round. There is one saving grace to Old – when a couple of characters forget why they had been angry with one another for so long in a sweet, tender moment. The only other good thing about this terrible, scare-free horror movie is that when you feel like you’ve aged a lifetime watching it, take heart – it will just be 108 minutes that you can’t ever get back.
• Old was filmed in the Dominican Republic during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic under stringent safety protocols.
• Old is the first M. Night Shyamalan film not filmed at least in part in his hometown of Philadelphia.
• Luxembourg-born Vicky Krieps (Phantom Thread, Gutland) is the granddaughter of Luxembourg politician and WWII resistance fighter Robert Krieps. Later in 2021 she will appear in another island drama, Bergman Island.