I was incredibly excited to see M. Night Shyamalan’s 2021 film “Old.” The movie theaters finally began opening due to relaxed COVID-19 regulations and my hometown’s biggest theater was freshly renovated.
“Old” stars horror’s current favorite son, Alex Wolff, with other notably talented co-stars. The whole film is drenched in summer sun for a perfect late-July release. After thoroughly enjoying Ari Aster’s “Midsommar,” I was ready for another bright yet sinister horror story.
From its trailers, “Old” seems to be a gripping thriller — innocent vacationers grow rapidly older on a mysterious and inescapable island. The island’s private paradise quickly becomes a salty, sandy prison and every actor gives a very convincingly confused performance as they all begin to realize the quiet terror creeping up on them — their own old age.
Vicky Krieps, who plays Prisca, a mother of two, shines especially bright as her character tries to protect her children. “Old” has some very intense moments as the younger characters try to figure out their own quickly changing bodies and feelings, which adds a sickly beautiful layer of humanity to the plot.
The film has an excellent conflict, development and air of suspense that make it a very enjoyable watch. However, I truly wish I did not spend my money on a ticket.
Shyamalan is somewhat of a master of the plot twist, but in my opinion as both an avid writer and viewer, “Old” falls flat. Up until about the middle of the film, I was on the edge of my seat. My fear lessened as I began to realize that the running time was almost up with so much left unsolved. The thrill of “Old” is entirely minimized by its rushed ending, which is an utter tragedy for such an engaging and interesting premise. What occurs in the film has so much potential to be rich and wonderful, but Shyamalan sadly wastes what could be a deeply creepy ending for the sake of buildup.
I believe “Old” is not a very good thriller, nor is it a well-done retelling of its inspiration. The film is based on the 2011 French graphic novel, “Sandcastle,” by Frederik Peeters; and it is my sincere hope that this novel has a better, more even build than its movie adaptation. In short, do not waste your money on seeing this movie in theaters. Simply wait until you can watch it for free.