Old Movie Review: See You On The Beach
Years ago, in a galaxy far, far away (Birmingham, AL), I saw M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense. (And I’m about to spoil it, so…hope you’ve seen it, too.) All I knew going in was that there was some kind of jaw-dropping twist. As the scene with Donnie Wahlberg played out, where his character shot Bruce Willis’s character, my hot dummy brain whirred to life. He’s dead, I thought, and then I sat for another hour and a half watching my prediction come true. As I sat watching Shyamalan’s new movie Old for review, I hoped for something different, a less disappointing experience. I mean, I’m not one of those people who instantly hates a Shyamalan film. I’ve found some of his movies enjoyable, or at least, interesting. I hoped that Old would be either one of those. It’s nice to hope.
Everything Old Is Older, Again
In case you’ve missed the trailer, which makes the premise very clear, here’s what up. Guy (Gael García Bernal) and Prisca (Vicky Krieps) are on a resort vacation with their kids, 6-year-old Trent and 11-year-old Maddox. (Multiple actors play the children at various ages, most notably Alex Wolff and Thomasin McKenzie, as teen versions of Trent and Maddox, respectively.) Prisca’s found this resort online, and we immediately know it’s a creepy place when the staff greets Prisca and Guy upon arrival with special cocktails tailored to their tastes.
image via Universal Pictures
There are many activities from which to choose from at the resort and the kids are a little overwhelmed. So the resort manager (Gustaf Hammersten) suggests the family visit a private beach. The next day, M. Night Shyamalan himself drives the family to that beach. He’s playing a character, but…is he? Anyway, they’re not the only passengers. Charles (Rufus Sewell), Chrystal (Abbey Lee), their daughter Kara, and Charles’s mother Agnes (Kathleen Chalfant) also come along. Later, Shyamalan will also drop off married couple Jarin (Ken Leung) and Patricia (Nikki Amuka-Bird).
And at first, it’s everything the resort manager promised: a secluded beach with stunning vistas. (The Dominican Republic looks amazing, so at least there’s that.) But things quickly fall apart. Trent finds a dead body, the companion of the apparently shell-shocked famous rapper Mid-Sized Sedan (Aaron Pierre). (Yes, I said his name was Mid-Sized Sedan.) Within a few hours, the children are teenagers. In fact, everyone on the beach is rapidly aging. And there’s no escape.
Old Movie Review
image via Universal Pictures
Apparently it was Old home week, literally, at the movie theater as our Comic Years Slack revealed that at least three of us saw the movie this week. And none of us cared for it very much. Before the film I thought that this premise hews so close to silliness that it would be a tricky tightrope walk to pull it off, to make it not dissolve into parody. It brings me no pleasure to report that merciful goodness, it took a huge dive off that tightrope.
A large part of it, at least for me, was the dialogue. It was clunky and unnatural at best. It (still) sounds like Shyamalan has never heard a human conversation. Or that he thinks the only purpose of film dialogue is to communicate exposition in the most naked way possible. And it’s all in service of a ridiculous storyline, which, yes, comes with a patented Shyamalan twist. I think I would have preferred the bummer ending of the source material rather than this, which barely matters.
Moreover, it’s difficult for me even to pinpoint specific elements that don’t work because it’s everything. None of it works. All of it, from the script to the line deliveries to certain shots, combine to produce a spectacularly amateurish affair. It’s so off-putting and goofy that it seems purposeful, as if everyone involved was trying to sweep next year’s Razzies.
At one point, the film image jerked, and half the screen was bathed in hot pink. For minutes on end, scenes played out this way. It turned out to be some kind of error with the projection, as the film soon came to a stuttering halt. (God didn’t want my eyes to see this.) However, my first assumption was that the fluorescent bisection was an intentional effect in the movie. Like, of course we’re doing this weird-ass color experimentation. And why wouldn’t I assume that when there’s literally a shot of Shyamalan’s character looking directly into the camera? (He’s not the only one, either.)
In an effort to be generous (at this late point of this Old movie review), I will say that the basic storyline isn’t bad. I could easily picture it as part of a classic horror anthology series. Within the 30-minute constraints of The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits? Yeah, this could work. But in this form? Nah, babe.
Old is now playing in theaters. Please share your thoughts on our social media or in these comments.
featured image via Universal Pictures
Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf. Email her at [email protected]