OLD. (2021) DIRECTED, WRITTEN AND CO-PRODUCED BY M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN. BASED ON THE GRAPHIC NOVEL, SANDCASTLE, BY PIERRE OSCAR LEVY AND FREDERIK PEETERS. STARRING VICKY KRIEPS, GAEL GARCIA BERNAL, RUFUS SEWELL, ABBEY LEE, KEN LEUNG, NIKKI AMUKA-BIRD AND AARON PIERRE. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. © This is a strange one. I got super-excited when I saw the cover on the DVD box, which featured an anonymous someone with half normal body parts and half sort of skeletonized limbs, to indicate a process of extreme ageing, hence the title. I was also excited by the fact that the director, M. Night Shyamalan, is famed for the plot twists in his movies, for example, as in THE VILLAGE (2004), and I was hugely looking forward to the twist in this one. I kind of guessed it halfway through, though, with not a little help from the director himself, which was surprising. Then the film started ending, and I kept waiting for the final plot twist that would justify my supreme faith in the director. Sadly, that didn’t come and I was left feeling a bit flat, but OLD is still a really entertaining and enjoyable- if confusing- horror film, even if M. Night Shyamalan himself denies that he’s a ‘horror’ film-maker. Horror is the destination, he says, whereas he prefers his characters to come through the experience and out the other side, as it were. Yes, I did watch the thirty-minute extra feature, lol. It shows him saying the above thing about his not being a horror director, and then everything else is about how much he loves his three beautiful, talented daughters, at least two of whom worked on the film with him, one directing and one writing and performing the theme song. Fair enough, guy loves his family. I was glad the extra feature wasn’t any longer, though, as there’s only so much of that kind of thing you can stomach. The plot sees three families coming to a fabulous island for a vacation, and then being offered the chance by the ‘resort manager’ to take a ‘day trip’ to a supposedly gorgeous stretch of private beach which they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. I’ve put in the quotation marks because nothing here is ‘as it seems,’ heh-heh-heh. M. Night Shyamalan himself plays the tour bus driver who drives the group of ten people to this peach of a beach, and then drives off again after leaving them an unusually large amount of food. The beach sure is isolated. They reach it by walking through some eerie, lonely caves, then, once they’re ensconced on said beach, it very much looks like they won’t be able to leave it again… Not only this, but they very quickly discover that the beach has an horrific secret that will mess not only with their minds but also with their physical bodies. You might be able to guess what happens from the title, but I won’t beat you over the head with it. It reminded me a lot of Stephen King’s excellent novella-turned-film, THINNER. As a body horror- even if ‘Night,’ as everyone calls him, doesn’t like to call it horror!- the film is pretty damn chilling and effective. Particularly striking bits, for me, included Prisca Cappa’s stomach tumour, Kara’s ‘baby,’ a child born to another child, and what happens to the stunning blonde Mrs. Paranoid English Surgeon when her calcium deficiency gets terrifyingly out of hand. That poor, poor woman. I also really liked her husband, Mr. Paranoid English Surgeon, played by Rufus Sewell, having his mental breakdown on the same beach that will claim the lives of most of them before the story ends. Ah, come on, guys. How is that a spoiler? What kind of an enchanted beach would it be that didn’t kill anyone, ever? Some magic beach that’d be. Cool your jets, lol, and enjoy the movie. It’s a weird one, but still well worth at least one watch. And don’t, whatever you do, call it a ‘horror’ to your mates, because, well, you know. ‘Night’ doesn’t dig it…
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books: