Old (2021)

There was a time that people wanted to give M. Night Shyamalan the title of our generation’s Rod Serling, but as time goes on, his films have gone from Twilight Zone to Outer Limits to Tales from the Darkside in quality and now, they hover somewhere around stories that even shows like Monsters would say, “Well, that seems pretty bad.” Actually, I really like Monsters and feel bad associating that show with Shyamalan’s output. Maybe a better example would be to imagine if Night Gallery was only the Jack Laird comedy bits and The Sixth Sense with none of Serling’s contributions.

To be even more honest, I feel bad dunking on Old and the works of Shyamalan, which get worse with each release and his hamfisted attempts at being a modern William Castle, like when he got SyFy to air a documentary that claimed that he died as a child and could therefore speak to the dead, suffer from a lack of aesthetics and none of the wonderful hullaballoo that Castle exhibited.

So yeah — Old is not good. What did you expect? Each of his films is the very definition of something I usually love, the hijinks ensue film. Get a great concept: an island makes people prematurely age and then…hijinks ensue. But the hijinks here are pretty predictable. And while the director said that he wanted to explore the way his father saw the world through his dementia — dude, I’m dealing with that in my family right now and I don’t really want to wade through it in my entertainment — I think this movie would be best experienced if you had no way of comprehending just as shallow and pointless it all is and just enjoyed the pretty pictures.

The most entertaining thing about this movie would be the director’s statement, which claims that this was influenced by Australian New Wave films like Walkabout and Picnic at Hanging Rock, along with The Exterminating Angel, which actually made me giggle and then get really mad. Also, throwing out Ran, Rashomon and other Japanese films is a desperate stab at “hey I’m an artist!” while saying you’re influenced by Twilight Zone and Jaws is like saying that you enjoy drinking fluids and eating food.

This story was based on the graphic novel Sandcastle which gives no answers as to why the island rapidly ages people. Of course, we needed the twist to explain it. You know, the real twist would be the director not having a twist in his next film and trying to push himself beyond the hackneyed. Here’s to hoping.

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