108 minutes | USA | 2021
“I want to be here. Right now.”
A family of four goes on a tropical vacation after mom (Vicky Krieps) scores reservations online. But the Anamika Resort should really be called the Economica Resort, and you get what you pay for. The family is suspiciously “selected” to go to a more exclusive part of the beach. Since the kids, Trent (Nolan River) and Maddox (Alexa Swinton), are fighting and can’t agree on anything, Mom and Dad (Gael García Bernal) say “yes”. The kids are in a hurry to get there, but the mom reminds them that it’s time to “start slowing down”. However, this is just when things are about to speed up. Way up.
Based on the graphic novel Sandcastle, M. Night Shyamalan adapted it to the screen and directed it as Old. It’s almost like he ordered a bot to write a script that’s a cross between Adam Sandler’s Click and Luis Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel. Not only does time speed up out of control, but they can’t escape! Mua-haha!
Along for the ride are Charles (Rufus Sewell), his hot younger wife Chrystal (Abbey Lee), and their six-year-old daughter Kara (Mikaya Fisher who quickly morphs into Eliza Scanlen, one of the most exciting young actresses working today). Charles is a racist who gets uglier and uglier insider and out the more he ages and descends into madness (not unlike the grandparents in Shyamalan’s The Visit).
Former swim team member Jarin (Ken Leung) and his wife, Patricia (Nikki Amuka-Bird), who is prone to grand mal seizures, come along for the ride as well. Shyamalan really balances out the casting, including many actors from different racial backgrounds. This is really important today and it felt so inclusive.
Shyamalan explores the fact that we’re all getting older. The kids accelerated in age body-wise without their mental capacity keeping up. Maybe it’s that they haven’t had time to learn about the ways of the world, but things get weird when they haven’t had time to adjust to their surroundings. Everyone is aging 50 years in one day! That’s about two years per hour. For the adults, they won’t have long to live if they don’t get the heck out of there. They try, but they begin to pass out every time they attempt to go back through the cave that brought them there. It reminded me of the house of mirrors in the horror film Us: you can come in, but you won’t return the exact same way that you were. Strangely enough or maybe all too fittingly, both films have the same cinematographer: Mike Gioulakis.
The film is not perfect. In the beginning, Trent and Maddox take down the names and occupations of practically everyone in the resort. While this of course comes in handy later on, it’s a little bit lazy! And don’t worry. All cops are bastards, except for the cop in this movie who is an exception to the rule. Also, Trent and Maddox sing a song in the van on the way to the beach. I didn’t really feel a connection to it and felt it could have been more powerful.
Filmed in the Dominican Republic, it is the first movie from Shyamalan that he made outside of Philadelphia. But don’t worry. The main family the film follows is from Philadelphia. Overall, Old is powerful in its themes that teach us to cherish every moment. All the “little things” that we fight about seem to pale in comparison when people are fighting for their actual survival. While some may not like how much death and destruction the film offers, don’t worry: some people live.
Article was written by Allison McCulloch. Follow her Twitter.