With the spooky season sadly silenced, I decided to watch a creepy film that recently appeared at movie theaters after they partially reopened, then quickly disappeared. It was a Redbox night and I was definitely getting Old.
At a tropical resort near a nature preserve, visitors attempt to relax on a private beach (while ignoring the clearly posted off limits sign). Each one carries a slightly different burden, but when they discover the “natural anomaly” taking place there, these strangers must band together in order to somehow survive.
It seems that something on this remote, undeveloped island is causing rapid aging and some mysterious force (or forces) won’t allow them to freely leave. There’s also no cell phone reception on the beach, so they’re all pretty much trapped unless they can quickly figure it all out. It’s like an outdoor escape room, but on a beach.
When a naked female body floats ashore, initial vibes remind me of the Brie Larson shark movie, The Shallows. It also brought me back to LOST, but there’s so much more. Although the beach is desolate with rock walls and there’s no true vegetation or life nearby, the scenario gets claustrophobic when it’s revealed that someone from each group is sick and seeks medical attention.
In a form of time travel, Thomasin McKenzie makes a brief appearance as Maddox (she recently appeared in Last Night in Soho), who must work with with her younger brother in order to survive the whole ordeal together.
“Something is going on with time on this beach…”
Adapted from the graphic novel, Sandcastle by Pierre-Oscar Lévy and Frederik Peeters, Old is a feature film that deals with the scenario of seeing your children grow up too fast. In watching the featurettes, M. Night Shyamalan doesn’t believe he makes horror films, but he does admit to using dark-and-disturbing themes in his movies. That’s not a bad thing. I kinda wish he would’ve addressed the giant elephant in the room, though.
For a long time now, Night’s films have relied a little too heavily on using dramatic plot twists, so much so the rest of the films would usually lack development. After the success of The Sixth Sense (which I absolutely loved, BTW), audiences expected it with every single release. At a certain point, they became anticlimactic and a crutch for his creativity.
This McGuffin, of sorts, brought him instant success… and became an easy complaint for his predictable writing style. Audiences noticed. His big-budget projects became less profitable at the box office and then he flipped the switch on his career. Focusing on smaller projects and even television (the first season of Wayward Pines with The Duffer Brothers was top notch!), he was slowly but surely building upon his early-found success. Old was projected to welcome the filmmaker back into Hollywood’s good graces on the big screen, but COVID-19 had other plans.
Theaters were just beginning to reopen and consistently welcome back the public when Universal released Old. The film only grossed $48 million nationwide, but doubled that globally at $90 million. I am happy that Night’s found success once more and hope that more people will give this film a chance.
Maybe the filmmaker should look to adapt more projects, as this is only the second time he has brought previously published source material to the big screen. Maybe he should focus on smaller stories, as he seemed at ease with a lower budget. And maybe he should keep bringing strange tales to life. He may not quite fit into the Tim Burton status of filmmakers, but if he can double or even triple his budgeted films at the box office, he will definitely raise comparisons.
M. Night gets Old, as a storyline and as a parent (his daughter was a second unit director on the project). You should, too.