Inspired by author Pierre Oscar Lévy and artist Frederik Peeters’ French graphic novel Sandcastle, Old is the visionary auteur M. Night Shyamalan’s latest venture into the age-old philosophical debate between eternalism and presentism. In this thriller, Shyamalan transforms the self-explanatory concept of time and space into a self-reflexive experiment with cinema’s audiovisual potentials, while falling too short of writing an airtight narrative to satisfactorily execute the concept.

Old starts with a family’s beach vacation that seems too good to be true, during which the hotel manager invites them to spend one day on a remote private beach. At the beach, they become acquainted with a few other guests, after which all of them start rapidly ageing within the day. Showcasing his mastery of symbolic framing and kinetic camera movement, Shyamalan exhausts a variety of genre-bending techniques in the film, which incorporates the thematic and stylistic elements of fantasy, horror, and science fiction. In turn, his cinematic adaptation and subversion of Lévy and Peeters’ obscure source material feel coherent and sensical enough as an entertaining mind game.

However, in the film’s script, Shyamalan over-explains the series of plot twists that chain up its main sci-fi arc, while struggling to strike the subtle balance between audience engagement and room for interpretation. At odd times, he throws in vapid dialogues intended to make us ponder on the profound philosophy of human existence in relativity to the grand scheme of time and space, but they are indeed cheesy, cringeworthy, and out of touch.

Old once again proves Shyamalan’s sharp eye for out-of-the-box concepts which he can singularly turn into a haunting cinematic feat. But his sloppy writing consistently takes away from its full potential, and wastes the talents of its diverse, promising cast whose over-the-top performances do not have a substantial ground to land on.



CAST: Gael García Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Alex Wolff, Thomasin McKenzie, Abbey Lee, Eliza Scanlen

DIRECTOR: M. Night Shyamalan

WRITERS: M. Night Shyamalan, Pierre-Oscar Lévy, Frederick Peeters

SYNOPSIS: A family spends one day on a private beach, where they start rapidly aging.