Old: Film Review


Universal Pictures

M. Night Shyamalan‘s films have been a mixed bag for me but I always approach them with high hopes because I know I’m going to get some out-there, innovative filmmaking and I was particularly excited for Old because the trailer looked awesome.

His latest supernatural horror/thriller follows Guy (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Prisca (Vicky Krieps) and their two children Trent and Maddox (predominantly played by Alex Wolff and Thomasin McKenzie) as they go on a luxury tropical holiday. One day, on the suggestion of the resort’s manager, they visit a nearby secluded beach with fellow holidaymakers Charles (Rufus Sewell), Chrystal (Abbey Lee), their daughter Kara (mostly Eliza Scanlen) and Charles’ mother Agnes (Kathleen Chalfant). They soon realise there is something very wrong with the beach – it causes them to age rapidly, compressing their entire lives into a single day.

For starters, what a terrific, fresh and exciting concept. The trailer hooked me in right away and I couldn’t wait to see what happened and how the beach’s horrifying powers were explained. But – and it saddens me to write this – the execution of the idea was very poor and it loses its impact when stretched across a 108-minute movie.

The worst offender is the dialogue. The screenplay is simply not good. The actors are lumbered with so much clunky exposition, explaining what’s happened and theorising what they could try next, which is understandable given the circumstances, but it all felt too heavy-handed and overdone, with characters stating the damn obvious and reeling off important information and facts in an unrealistic way. This leads me directly onto issue number two…

The acting. The weak script and thinly defined characters meant that the actors didn’t have much to work with and had to wrangle with clumsy dialogue. This was most notable with Krieps (who I loved in Phantom Thread) as she oversells all her lines and comes across like she’s “acting” rather inhabiting her character. Nobody is unscathed and there isn’t really a standout performer, although I thought McKenzie did well as a teenager trapped in a more mature body in some scenes.

I have other issues too – the film spends too long on the beach and starts to lose momentum, plus there were some unnecessary scenes at the end and not a satisfying amount of explanation for what we just saw. I’m also not convinced the timeline of events added up, and other characters on the beach – such as rapper Mid-Sized Sedan (Aaron Pierre) – were literally just there to boost the body count and don’t have much to do.

But there are some positives! I found it really interesting seeing a person’s life being distilled down into one day and I liked how it looked at ageing and mortality. Shyamalan also effectively created an unsettling, unnerving and at times, chilling atmosphere, complete with a couple of cringe-inducing body horror moments. The beach setting (in the Dominican Republic) is stunning and the ageing effects were subtle and well done.

Like many of Shyamalan’s movies, Old is going to divide opinion so I recommend you checking it out just to see whether you fall into the like it or loathe it camp.

In cinemas from Friday 23rd July

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

July in film: My recommendations

Black Widow

©Marvel Studios 2021

It’s the start of July so that means it’s time to take a look at what’s coming out this month!

I have been excited to see this film for more than a year and I’m thrilled it’s finally coming out in the UK. It’s a gender-bending body-swap comedy starring Kathryn Newton and Vince Vaughn as a high school girl and serial killer who swap bodies. It’s very funny and really gory and seeing Vaughn playing a teenage girl brought me so much joy. In cinemas from Friday 2nd July.

Another Round
This Danish movie rightly won the Best International Feature Film Oscar earlier this year. Mads Mikkelsen is fantastic in this comedy-drama, about a group of friends and teachers who experiment with varying blood alcohol levels throughout their workday. This film has one of the best endings in recent memory. Read my review here. In cinemas from 2nd July.

Black Widow
It’s been a while since we’ve had a Marvel movie to watch on the big screen! I’m very excited by the fact cinema has recovered enough for it to happen! This standalone movie is led by Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and explores what she got up to between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. In cinemas from 7th July and on Disney+ from 9th July.

Gunpowder Milkshake
To be honest, I don’t know exactly what Gunpowder Milkshake is about because I avoided the trailer but all I need to know is that it’s an action-thriller starring Lena Headey and Karen Gillan as hitwomen. Sign me up! They are supported by more kickass assassins played by Angela Bassett, Carla Gugino and Michelle Yeoh. Hell yeah! In cinemas from 14th July.

M. Night Shymalan‘s latest thriller looks wild. A family go for a day out at a secluded beach which somehow causes them to age rapidly, reducing their entire lives into a single day. I can’t wait to find out the explanation for this. The film stars Gael Garcia Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Alex Wolff, Thomasin McKenzie and more. Shymalan’s recent work hasn’t blown me away but this looks so intriguing. In cinemas from 23rd July.

Jungle Cruise
Another movie based on a Disney theme park ride, this action-adventure stars Dwayne Johnson as a steamboat captain who agrees to guide a British scientist and her reluctant brother – Emily Blunt and Jack Whitehall – on their mission into the jungle to find the Tree of Life. This looks like great fun. In cinemas and Disney+ from 30th July.

The Suicide Squad

I’m excited to see Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn again tbh! This sequel to 2016’s Suicide Squad follows a group of imprisoned convicts – some familiar, some new – who are sent to destroy a Nazi-era prison and lab. The trailer for this movie, directed by James Gunn, is awesome so I have high hopes. Robbie is joined by the likes of Idris Elba, Joel Kinnaman and John Cena. In cinemas 30th July.

Glass: Film Review

I am a huge fan of James McAvoy and thought he was brilliant in Split so, even though I didn’t care much for Unbreakable, I was looking forward to Glass, the conclusion of M. Night Shyamalan‘s trilogy. However, I came away feeling pretty meh about the whole thing.

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James McAvoy, Samuel L. Jackson and Sarah Paulson at the Glass U.K. premiere: My pics

Tonight the cast of Glass – Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, James McAvoy, Sarah Paulson and Anya Taylor-Joy – joined director M. Night Shyamalan on the white carpet of the U.K. premiere at London’s Curzon Mayfair.

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