M. Night Shyamalan once again proves why he’s one of the most ambitious directors working. While Old features a brilliant story and some themes that will hit a lot of people close to home. Its cheesy dialogue, odd directing choices and lack of empathy for the cast prevents this film from achieving greatness. While certainly better than most of Shyamalan’s movies, it just didn’t do enough to warrant a recommendation. 

The story manifested a new phobia for me, concealed beaches. A lovely tropical vacation takes a turn for the worst when a family discovers the secluded beach they are relaxing on for a few hours is somehow causing them to age rapidly. The word tomorrow has never been more terrifying for everyone on that beach. The moment it arrives, everyone will have lived their whole lives in only a single day. 

M. Night Shyamalan remains as one of my favourite directors working thanks to his undeniable courage to take major risks with his filmmaking and storytelling. He answers to nobody and sees his vision through, which I respect about him. However, his filmography is truly polarizing as a result in my humble opinion, due to him crafting some unforgettable masterpieces such as The Sixth Sense, Split, and Unbreakable. This same person is also responsible for some truly atrocious dumpster fire films like The Last Airbender, After Earth, and The Happening. Despite all of that, I will always fangirl over everything he puts out because they are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get. 

Unique Filmmaking

I will say this, Old certainly manages to have its own distinct style thanks to Shyamalan’s camerawork. However, I find myself wishing I could’ve been there with him and told him to back up a little. He was favoring extreme closeups on our main characters, which were very disorienting and uncomfortable to watch. While aging rapidly could be really tough to look at, and perhaps, Shayamalan was trying to capture that feeling. I wish he would’ve changed his camerawork in favour of something that made me feel less queasy. I was grateful I had finished my popcorn because I had a sinking feeling that I would refill the bag with something a lot less delicious. 

M. Night Shyamalan sadly didn’t improve from there. Next came the over the shoulder shot for a lot of our main characters to give us their perspective on what was happening on the beach. Then along came the blurry effect. Its purpose was to disorient our vision of everyone on screen so that we couldn’t properly see them as they aged before our eyes. You would think I looked away from the screen in fear, but nope, I felt like my head got stuck in a paint can shaker. I did like when his blurry shots were used to demonstrate a main character’s deteriorating eyesight. I sympathized almost immediately with that character and took a moment to appreciate my own stellar eyesight. That is how you effectively conjure a feeling from your audience without words. The philosophy “less is more” really resonates with me and M. Night Shyamalan should’ve only used the blurry effect to demonstrate a character’s degenerating eyesight. The same emotions would occur if we see everyone age quickly before our eyes. This would’ve added the right amount of horror and lived up to its simple, yet horrifying title “Old”.  

Surface level characters

Old manages to set up some very interesting main characters with relatively interesting backstories, but somehow still makes them boring. The clever set-up made me lick my lips with anticipation to get to know them better, but I just never achieved that level of closeness I was hoping for. Watching everyone suddenly age rapidly should make me sad and terrified simultaneously. However, I never experienced any sense of urgency, other than the few times I carefully touched my face. Congratulations, M. Night Shyamalan, your poorly written characters made me care more about myself than everyone who was actually stuck aging quickly. 

Speaking of that, I applaud M. Night Shyamalan for always writing his own scripts. But, his dialogue is cheesier than all the cheese you can get in France, and Old is another shining example of that. Things that the characters say are mostly anticlimactic, awkward, and at times, a little too on the nose. For instance, after this little girl is finished singing, her mother responds by saying she can’t wait to hear her daughter sing when she is old. Really?! I guarantee anyone else would’ve complimented their child’s talent in the moment and not look to the future. Little things like this happened so often, that I found myself face palming my head one too many times. This continued when our fine cast began to age rapidly, since their reactions to it left me perplexed. 

A beginning, a middle, and a twist

Our main characters embrace aging rapidly a little too calmly.  There was a sense of panic, but I think they needed to turn it up a little. In all fairness, Shyamalan does get the more sentimental moments right and there are some scenes where we feel a true sense of fear and dread. Sure they are few and far between, but it was a nice reminder of one of the director’s many talents. As good as he can be with creating fear and tension, nothing compares to an old fashioned M. Night Shyamalan twist. 

We have now been conditioned to expect a twist with every single movie that he makes. For Old, without giving anything away, it was pretty unexpected and thought provoking. I didn’t see it coming and without giving anything away, this was a twist that stayed with me even days later. It actually almost saved Old for me personally. Whenever you are expected to do something exceptional near the end, it adds a lot of pressure on the director and I am glad to see that M. Night Shyamalan continues to demonstrate why he is still one of the best thriller directors working in the industry today by completely pulling the rug out from under us when it comes to his endings.  
I will most likely look like the most vain person stepping onto a beach after watching Old. Though it  embraces its major theme with relative ease and crafts a brilliantly terrifying story. It also fails to fully establish an emotional connection with its main characters, making it difficult to sympathize with the horrific events that happen to them. The stylized filmmaking mostly falters rather than dazzles, but its excellent twist lives up to the hype and saves the film from being a true failure. Old isn’t the triumph I was hoping for, I am glad that I saw it in the cinema, but I probably won’t watch it again.