Starring Gail Garcia Bernal, Vicky Krieps and Rufus Sewell
If any director can have a second redemption, it’s M. Night Shyamalan with this character-driven, supremely atmospheric sci-fi horror film.
Based on the graphic novel Sandcastle, Old follows several families trapped on a secluded beach that causes them to age rapidly.
Old features an intriguing narrative of phenomenal sustained tension.
Shyamalan conjures a mood of dreadful fascination, as we learn about the beach’s mysterious effects at the same pace as the characters. Fatigue and helplessness weigh visibly upon them as they physically age throughout the film, but their palpable despair coexists with moments of beautiful pathos and dark humour.
The two adult leads (Gail Garcia Bernal and Vicky Krieps) are rather wooden and the dialogue is stilted at times, but rarely to the point of detracting from the drama or pulling you out of the scenario. The rest of the performances are excellent: Rufus Sewell is the standout as Charles, a paranoid surgeon who violently succumbs to dementia, and Alex Woff and Thomasin McKenzie, as older versions of young siblings Trent and Maddox, do a fantastic job portraying children forced to adapt to sudden, traumatic maturity.
The film has a disquieting and potentially problematic sub-plot involving body-horror pregnancy, but Shyamalan handles it tastefully by keeping many of the details implicit.
Old is a small-scale but powerful and extremely eerie experience, and is playing in most Victorian cinemas.
– Seth Lukas Hynes