Sometimes, films are unjustly judged, and others, popular opinion needs to be challenged. Either way, this will almost definitely be Unpopularity Content.

Based on the graphic novel Sandcastle, M. Night Shyamalan’s Old continues the director’s trend of making unsettling thriller movies. It tells the story of a group of tourists on a remote island who find themselves trapped on a mysterious beach. Despite their picturesque surroundings, things aren’t as they seem: everyone is aging at an alarming rate.

Old features an impressive ensemble cast. Gael GarcĂ­a Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Rufus Sewell, Alex Wolff, and Thomasin Mckenzie and Ken Leung star alongside a handful of familiar supporting actors. As the characters age rapidly over the course of the movie, the number of actors is larger than that of characters.

It’s an intriguing premise, that much is undeniable. However, critics were largely indifferent to the film upon its release, leading to it being largely dismissed. Shyamalan’s movies and their plot twists are often polarizing, but did Old deserve better?

Engaging Though It May Be, Old Ultimately Fails Its Excellent Premise

Vicky Krieps as Prisca, Gael Garcia Bernal as Guy, and Abbey Lee as Chrystal in Old (2021)

From the very first scene, one thing stands out: Old‘s dialog is truly terrible. It sounds wooden and inhuman, with heavy-handed references to the passage of time and the aging process. This initial handling of the premise is grating, to say the least, because it indicates an intention to appear clever without actually done anything intelligent. It pointlessly foreshadows something that the audience already knows is going to happen, and it actively hurts the overall tone from the off.

Old‘s plot is relatively exciting, but entirely predictable. The Shyamalan plot twist is practically non-existent (maybe that is the twist?), with everything proceeding in a pretty by-the-numbers sort of way. Entertaining though the film may be, nothing in its story really makes it stand out. It isn’t mind-blowing like The Sixth Sense or suspenseful like Signs, making it one of Shyamalan’s weaker efforts. Basically, it’s The Village, but on a beach.

Despite impressive production values, especially where the rapid aging process is concerned, Old just isn’t impressive. Solid turns from its cast just isn’t enough to salvage its ridiculous and poorly-penned script, and almost every development falls flat. Factor in Old‘s liberal dose of plot holes, and the result is an underwhelming, if somewhat enjoyable, thriller.

Rating: 40%

Summary: Old isn’t altogether bad, but it isn’t good. Its poor script is all the more disappointing for the way it wastes a brilliant premise – ultimately, Old just doesn’t work as it should.

Highlight: The genuinely impressive work done by Old‘s make-up department is one of the few areas that deserves genuine praise.