OLD is a bizarre horror feature
In every M. Night Shaymalan feature you can guarantee one thing: it will have a twist. Old is a bizarre horror feature that hits you out of left field with its intriguing concept, cringeworthy dialogue, and one of Shyamalan's best twists to date.
Shyamalan’s direction here is absolutely wild - riddled with an onslaught of closeups and odd directorial decisions. Locations are minimal with a vast majority of the film taking place on a singular beach and a resort briefly so Shyamalan makes the most of his minimal setting and to be honest, he half succeeds. With such a small setting it would have been nice to get a good look of the surroundings to get a feel for where characters might have disappeared to at random times - it’s such a small beach yet people disappear all the time.
Several families staying at a mysterious resort are offered a day at a secret vacation spot that turns into a nightmarish day at the beach. Surprisingly based on a graphic novel (something I’ll totally have to seek out) M. Night has adapted a hypnotic horror tale that would have worked so much better with a rewrite from a far superior screenwriter. The story is impressive in just how bizarre it is, it is merely in the execution that leaves the viewer wishing for more out of its characters to drive the plot forward.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
The dialogue to some will be the delight of the film, with some comparisons to The Happening I’m sure. With such classic lines as “What…no!” being exchanged for “What are your names and occupations?”. Characters aren’t Shyamalan's bright spot, what he does best is story, what he doesn’t do well is anything character. If you’ve seen any Shyamalan film after Unbreakable then you’re familiar with what you’re gonna get here.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
Visually I wish some of the characters better reflected the age that came at them so rapidly. The beach setting doesn’t feel overly utilized with many characters disappearing in such a small amount of space but we never truly see the area they are trapped in beyond a few small aspects of it. A question that’s never fully realized is where are all these dead bodies going because we never see any of them again after their initial passing. It’s creepy but it’s lacking a little bit of extra depth that could have been better assisted with an R rating.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Trevor Gureckis has worked alongside Shyamalan previously with his efforts on the Apple TV+ series, Servant so it was evident that at the very least the critically acclaimed show might lend over its equally admired score. The score succeeded in impressing me, bringing about a sincere looming intensity as the mysterious process of the beach took hold.
Old doesn’t land at the top of Shyamalan’s filmography nor at the bottom. It’s not a film I’d want to revisit often due to the lacking characters holding the story back but the absurd direction style here does bring some unintentional humor but quite possibly I’d stop and watch if it just happened to be on while flipping channels.