M. Night Shyamalan’s latest grows up way too fast.
I caught M. Night Shyamalan’s latest thriller “Old” at a private screening with some of my new friends, and most of them were laughing and heckling at the screen. It was quite amusing to hear them to that, although I was more focused on seeing how the execution was supposed to play out. Here’s the promising set-up: various groups of people come to a private beach, where they somehow age at an accelerated rate, and every time they try to escape, they black out. That’s the most interesting aspect, after all, people are always afraid of getting old too fast.
But here’s the reason for all the laughing and heckling: the payoff sucks. It’s chocked full of characters with their own problems, and when the aging nightmare begins, it gets worse. People are screaming and practically killing each other, while time beats them to the punch on some of them. They all have medical issues, which is how they’re all connected. Details, details. And speaking of which, I can’t tell if these characters are supposed to be Autistic or not. I was beginning to ponder that, and if they were (or admitted to be), I would have been more interested than I was with their corny dialogue and lame aspects.
- The first group of people feature a risk accessor (Gael Garcia Bernal), his museum curator wife (Vicky Krieps from “Phantom Thread”), and their two kids: 11-year-old Maddox (Alexa Swinton), and 6-year-old Emun (Nolan River).
- The next group features a doctor (Rufus Sewell), his spoiled wife (Abbey Lee), his elderly mother (Kathleen Chalfant), and his little girl Kara (Kyle Bailey).
- Then, there’s a nurse (Ken Leung) and his epileptic psychiatrist wife (Nikki Amuka-Bird).
- And finally, there’s the rapper Mid-Sized Sedan (Aaron Pierre), whose girlfriend goes for a swim and turns up dead.
Then, all Hell breaks looses, as the children grow up (Alex Wolff and Thomasin McKenzie as the siblings and Eliza Scanlen as the little girl), the old lady passes away, and wounds heal rapidly. “Now this is some E.T. sh*t,” you probably would say.
With every M. Night Shyamalan movie, there has to be a twist to the story, and being that people who like or dislike his work are interested in seeing it, I won’t spoil anything for you. If this makes it on my annual Worst of the Year list, I’ll talk about some of the crazy things that happen.
Watching all this craziness reminded me of my experience seeing Darron Aronofsky’s “Mother” at the premiere at Radio City Music Hall. It was crazy to get in, and seeing Jennifer Lawrence deal with all these random people was crazy. It ended getting an “F” rating on Cinemascore, and I remember an elderly man walking up to me and saying “utter garbage.” And seeing “Old” with my friends leaves me curious about how audiences will take it.
The director has made some good movies and guilty pleasures in the past like “Unbreakable” and “Split,” but even he creates a pattern that squeezes the good and bad inside his filmography. A lot of the cast members have been so good in so many better films, but they’re literally left out here to dry. The story ends up being obvious, the characters can’t seem to prioritize, and we have to deal with some unnecessary moments. What starts off as an interesting concept, based on the graphic novel “Sandcastle,” ends up becoming a laughable picture.