By Mark Saldana
Rating: 2.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
M. Night Shyamalan is back with another horror thriller that explores people’s reactions to rapid aging in addition to some pre-existing problems that already trouble them. The interesting, but sometimes bewildering, filmmaker has plenty of great horror ideas in store for audiences, but is nevertheless predictable to a certain degree. By that, I mean that his new movie, of course, has a twist which reveals the “truth” behind the story’s conflict, but Shyamalan ultimately fails to execute it with absolute credibility. This issue ultimately undermines the mostly well-executed drama and horrific moments which lead up to this frustrating reveal.
Guy (Gael Garcia Bernal), Prisca (Vicky Krieps), and their children Trent (Alex Wolff/Emen Elliott) and Maddox (Thomasin McKenzie/Embeth Davidtz) begin their vacation on a tropical island where they hope to relax and have fun. They join several others on, what seems to be, a simple excursion to a serene and beautiful beach where they quickly discover that their lives are in danger. Not long after their arrival, they realize that their bodies are aging rapidly and that any health problems they already have get quickly exacerbated the longer they stay. As things continue to devolve, the group makes multiple, but failed, attempts to escape.
Based on the Swiss graphic novel Sandcastle by Pierre Oscar Levy and Frederik Peeters, M. Night Shyamalan delivers a movie that is riveting and disturbing, but fails to stick the landing when it comes to the movie’s inevitable twist. Everything leading up to this disappointing moment actually works fairly well. I totally got into the frightening and perturbing moments where the characters face these extraordinary proceedings, but ended the film in utter exasperation.
M. Night and his crew do mostly exceptional work in creating this amazing scenario with the appropriately feverish and desperate pacing that the story demands. The cinematography by Mike Gioulakis is absolutely gorgeous and the visual effects and makeup look superb. It is a damn shame that all of this work that has created such a phenomenal set up gets weakened by sloppy writing.
On top of all of this, the cast performs mostly well. All of the cast members deliver what is required of them in this bizarre scenario. In addition to the names I mentioned above, the film features great work by Rufus Sewell, Abbey Lee, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Ken Leung, Eliza Scanlen, Aaron Pierre, and Gustaf Hammarstein.
I suppose it is to be expected that M. Night Shyamalan will always give us movies that are a gamble when it comes to the overall quality. One just doesn’t know if he can quite pull it off. In recent years, he has had a mostly solid run when it has come to his films. Old just happens to be one of those entries that ultimately tanks, despite all of the well-executed moments leading up to its failure of a twist. And sadly, that isn’t too surprising.