OLD (2021) Reviews of M. Night Shyamalan mystery

 

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‘It’s only a matter of time’

Old is a 2021 science fiction mystery film about a family on a tropical holiday that discovers they are ageing at a very rapid speed.

Written, co-produced and directed by M. Night Shyamalan (Glass; Split; The Visit; Devil; Signs; The Sixth Sense) based on the graphic novel Sandcastle by Pierre-Oscar Levy and Frederick Peeters, the Blinding Edge Pictures movie was co-produced by Ashwin Rajan (Glass, AppleTV+’s Servant) and Marc Bienstock (Glass; Split).

The movie stars Rufus Sewell, Thomasin McKenzie, Embeth Davidtz, Eliza Scanlen and Abbey Lee.

Plot:

A family on a tropical holiday discovers that the secluded beach where they are relaxing for a few hours is somehow affecting their metabolic rate and causing them to age very rapidly… reducing their entire lives into a single day!

Reviews:

Old should best be re-evaluated as a comedy – a midnight movie in waiting even – as the choices Shyamalan makes (including giving himself something of a plum role) all defy logic.  You won’t lose any actual years off your life with this, but even these 108 minutes feel too precious to spend on a film that, despite being about getting older, aeroplane-spoon feeds its audience as if we were still in the learning development stages of our existence.” The Au Review

Old presents an absurd time-lapse scenario. No twists or surprises punctuate this bizarre trip, just a few moments of horror and a whole lot of cringe humor. […] Old does win points for being unique. It also keeps you engaged throughout, thanks to its disjointed and warring tones. Its themes are more intriguing than its narrative or its blandly written characters, however, despite a cast giving it their all.” Bloody Disgusting

“For all of Old‘s flaws – and those flaws are bounteous! – it’s a film with energy; a film with life. Shyamalan doesn’t appear to have a firm grasp on this material, but again, he’s trying! He’s trying to give us something different. And these days, that’s the sort of thing we should all be longing for. Besides, Old has its solidly crafted moments. There’s some particularly nasty body horror here…” /Film

“The large ensemble cast sometimes makes it difficult to entirely empathise with the characters’ predicament, as the action moves rapidly from one to another, and the film might have been improved by having fewer people involved […] Old may not the best film dealing with extraordinary events but it does contain enough moments to keep you guessing and its denouement is satisfying, successfully tying up the plot’s loose elements.” A Film Life

“The elements of silliness and deadly seriousness are nicely balanced and although I wasn’t absolutely sure about the ending, which has maybe too neat a bow tied on it, this is just very enjoyable and I was on the edge of my seat, not knowing whether to flinch or laugh, though I did both […] Time raced by while I was watching it.” The Guardian

” …there was a good chunk of time during the middle of Old, where everything worked very well for me. A lot is happening and it’s quite scary and chaotic. However, this is exactly where Shyamalan shines as both a writer and director. The beginning of the movie isn’t that strong and the ending could have been stronger.” Heaven of Horror

“I have a feeling that Old’s ending will go down as one of Shyamalan’s bests. So, if you are wondering if Old is a movie you should see, my answer is a big yes. It’s a breath of fresh air that the genre desperately needs. It’s clever, gripping, and unnerving.” Horror Fuel

Old will be equally as divisive as anything else M. Night Shyamalan has done […] Yet again, Old has a great twist that fits the film like a glove if you’ve been paying attention. The concluding segment pushed the film from really good to genuinely great in my eyes. It leaves you plenty to contemplate in its moral implications and visual lusciousness.” Josh at the Movies

“The dialogue is clunky as hell. The plot leaves you scratching your head with its many holes and oversights. Yet for all that, there are brief, all too brief, glimpses of filmmaking brilliance that make Shyamalan one of the more interesting filmmakers working in mainstream cinema today, despite all his flaws.” The Movie Waffler

“Overall, Old is powerful in its themes that teach us to cherish every moment. All the “little things” that we fight about seem to pale in comparison when people are fighting for their actual survival. While some may not like how much death and destruction the film offers, don’t worry: some people live.” Music City Drive-In

Old is very successful at what it has attempted to do and stands as the first Shyamalan film that has managed to really scare me. It is a beautiful film that has a fair amount of ugliness in it as well, as it should. The family drama is the least convincing aspect of it, but the film soars once it becomes a meditation on mortality and the choices we make in life in different aspects.” Nightmarish Conjurings

Old is fully committed to its central premise and not reliant on a third-act twist; what serves as an explanation towards the finale is generally underwhelming, but not enough to mar the solid thriller that has preceded it. Shyamalan’s latest film is both an engaging piece of science fiction and a thought-provoking parable about the fleeting nature of life.” The Prague Reporter

“The actors play everything straight and intense, which works here and there but also underlines that silliness; the moments of full-on body horror range from genuinely shocking to comically exaggerated. It’s all leading, of course, to the Big Shyamalan Climactic Reveal […] It’s not fully followed through on, but it ends up more compelling than a lot of what has preceded it.” Rue Morgue

Old isn’t a tragically bad Shyamalan film but it sails worryingly close to the likes of The Happening in terms of its eyebrow-raisingly idiotic dialogue and plot progression, delivering a resolution (not exactly the anticipated ’twist’ ending) that raises more questions than it offers answers. Life really is too short for films as clumsy and hokey as Old.” Starburst

“This is such an odd film that it becomes difficult to recommend to people because it does not neatly fit into any genre. Maybe the closest is that it is a slasher film where the killer is time? But then the fact it is so odd and unable to be put in a neat box makes it more of a movie to recommend because of its uniqueness. If you liked this film, I would also recommend to you The Invisible Man.” TL;DR

“It’s too frequently both silly and obvious, yet almost always rescued by a talented ensemble that never shrinks from selling every word of it […] There is something waiting beyond the clearly defined metaphor about appreciating every day. But like the film, the resolution of Old is more tidy than revelatory, as easy to digest and appreciate as it is to forget.” UK Film Review

Choice dialogue:

Charles [Rufus Sewell]: “I’m sorry but this is nonsense.”

Release:

Old was released theatrically on July 23, 2021.

Cast and characters:

Gael García Bernal … Guy
Vicky Krieps … Prisca
Rufus Sewell … Charles
Alex Wolff … Trent Aged 15
Thomasin McKenzie … Maddox Aged 16
Abbey Lee … Chrystal
Nikki Amuka-Bird … Patricia
Ken Leung … Jarin
Eliza Scanlen … Kara Aged 15
Aaron Pierre … Mid-Sized Sedan
Embeth Davidtz … Adult Maddox
Emun Elliott … Adult Trent
Alexa Swinton … Maddox Aged 11
Gustaf Hammarsten … Resort Manager
Kathleen Chalfant … Agnes
Francesca Eastwood … Madrid
Nolan River … Trent Aged 6
Luca Faustino Rodriguez … Trent Aged 11
Mikaya Fisher … Kara Aged 11
Kailen Jude … Idlib
M. Night Shyamalan … Hotel Van Driver
Matthew Shear … Sidney
Daniel Ison … Greg Mitchel
Jeffrey Holsman … Mr Brody
Margaux Da Silva … Scientist
John Twohy … CIA Agent
M. Night Shyamalan … Driver (uncredited)

Filming locations:

Dominican Republic

Technical details:

108 minutes
Audio: Dolby Atmos
Aspect ratio: 2.39: 1

Trailer:

TV spot:

Featurettes:

Interview: