NOW IN THEATERS! M. Night Shyamalan‘s latest cinematic gift to audiences, the mind-f**k simply and enigmatically titled Old, is hysterical on several levels. For one, its ludicrous central conceit, coupled with all the twists and leaden dialogue, will surely elicit unintentional guffaws. Secondly, the film is increasingly histrionic, the characters, camerawork, and plot confidently sliding into a miasmic swamp of implausibility. It’s perhaps that confidence that irritates most.
Let’s call it arrogance. Shyamalan, at this point, is so inebriated on his success and brilliance, on the notion that he’s endowed generations with his particular stamp on filmmaking, he feels like he can shove trash like Old down our gullets, and we’ll lap it up. Judging by the reaction in the theater, this may not be the case.
“…everyone seems to age two years every hour.”
Gargantuan, Hitchcockian title credits announce the film – the Master of Suspense being an obvious influence on Shyamalan, a fact which he repeatedly pounds into our heads. Please, for the love of God, stop these awful cameos! Where Hitch was subtle, elegant, and genuinely unsettling, Shyamalan is bloated, gauche, and so desperate to disturb it’s laughable.
The set-up, as is usually the case with the filmmaker, lures you in: Guy (Gael Garciá Bernal) and Prisca (Vicky Krieps) take their kids to a remote beach, which was recommended by a creepy hotel manager, in an attempt to have one last good vacation as a family before divorcing. Also seduced by the magical allure of the beach are couples Charles (Rufus Sewell) and Chrystal (Abbey Lee), and Patricia (Nikki Amuka-Bird) and Jarin (Ken Leung). Also, there’s a rapper, Mid-Sized Sedan (Aaron Pierre), lurking in the background, all despondent.
It doesn’t take long for a body to surface in the azure, fish-less waters. Then weird things start to happen. Primarily everyone seems to age two years every hour. This leads to a variety of wild contrivances such as the fact that they can’t escape the beach (something about their bodies having to adjust to the “real world”), wounds healing in seconds, babies, more dead bodies, and, oh, Prisca has a massive tumor on her bladder (or somewhere in that area).
"…how can a trainwreck slide off the rails?"