Imagine wanting a vacation from life’s struggles and you find the perfect location to take a much-needed load off. It’s family friendly, has wonderful amenities, and it’s within your price range. You arrive to beautiful fanfare, perks and the friendly faces of the staff, and schedule a day tour on a secluded section of the island to start off your festivities.
Okay are you with me? Sounds beautiful and exotic right? Only, your host forgets to mention that this remote part of the “island” has an uncanny and unexplainable power that multiplies the aging process – with an ability to take a 6 yr. old boy to the age of 50 in just 24 hours, so you know what it will do to us Gen-Xers in a matter of a few hours, right?
That’s the premise of M. Knight Shyamalan’s new supernatural thriller OLD which opened in theaters on Friday. Based on the graphic novel “Sandcastle” by Frederick Peeters, it features a multi-cultural cast that includes Gael Garcia Bernal (Y Tu Mama Tambien), Vicky Krieps (Phantom Thread), Rufus Sewell (The Man in the High Castle), Alex Wolff (Pig), Thomasin McKenzie (Jojo Rabbit), Nikki Amuka-Bird (Jupiter Ascending), Ken Leung (Lost), and Aaron Pierre (The Underground Railroad).
In the vein of “The Village” and “Glass,” we soon learn that there is some type of experimental manipulation at play, but the poor, unsuspecting visitors have no idea why they were led to a place so villainous, nor how to escape its wrath.
Shyamalan is one of those directors that some people love to hate, so I’ll preface my criticism of this film by stating that I actually love several of his works – including one that seems to catch a lot of heat from critics, “The Village.”
I love how he is faithful to Philadelphia and the surrounding areas and noted that he still gives love to Philly near the end of this one with a character’s home address – even though “Old” was filmed mostly at Playa El Valle in the Dominican Republic.
And I love how “Old” was shot – Shyamalan stating that he intentionally added to the “claustrophobic” and trapped feeling of the islanders with his angular cinematography – and the gorgeously scenic location that was chosen, which appropriately lended to the narrative of going from “sugar to sh*t” in a matter of hours.
Yet, I feel that Shyamalan, in his quest to deliver the moral commentary or dilemma, seemed to lose control after the twist was revealed – with the movie losing much of its suspense and becoming a bit campier in its approach.
And the cynic in me couldn’t help but form questions regarding how things may have really played out on this island scenario while contemplating, “Nobody takes a weapon from the delusional person the first time he uses?” “Bathing suits grow?,” and lastly “You can keep bikini bottoms on during labor?”
I so wish I could have enjoyed this one more, but it ultimately failed to give me the jolt that I’ve come to expect from some of Shyamalan’s works (Devil, writer, The Visit, The Sixth Sense, and The Village for example) and left me mostly unsatisfied. I rate it 2.5 out of 5 on the MMTrometer.
OLD opened in theaters on Friday, July 23.
Until next thought, Thomasena