If M. Night Shyamalan ever asks me to get in his bus and go to an isolated beach, I’m not saying yes.
Old is an M. Night Shyamalan movie about people who get stuck on a magic beach that makes them old. It has a lot of predictable plot twists, which is unfortunate, and also it’s really stupid, which I expected.
This review is going to have spoilers for Old, which isn’t a very good movie, so it’s fine.
The movie is about this couple who are getting a divorce named Guy and Prisca, who have decided to take their kids Maddox and Trent to a resort as, I guess, some kind of last hurrah before they get a divorce? It’s not super clear but anyway, they go to this resort that they’ve been lured to and then are told about a secret beach that they’ll really like. M. Night Shyamalan, presumably playing himself, drives them and a bunch of other people there, which is where the unbelievable part of the movie starts for me, because I mean, everyone knows that M. Night Shyamalan likes to have plot twists, so if he personally offers to drive you to an isolated area, you just shouldn’t get in the bus, honestly. Anyway, Everyone gets to the beach and then they all start getting old and die. Prisca gets stomach cancer in like two minutes and it has to be surgically removed right away, the kids start aging, a lady dies and her body decomposes in a few hours, Trent stops being five and turns into the kid from Jumanji and immediately has sex with the other child who isn’t his sister, and she immediately gets pregnant and has a baby, which immediately dies from neglect because someone puts him down for two seconds. A bunch of other stupid stuff happens and then eventually Trent and Maddox escape from the beach, which is revealed to be the testing ground where an evil pharmaceutical company steals people’s passports and then does drug trials on them by dosing them with drugs then sending them to the time beach to see how the drugs work in the long term.
So I guess I’ll start with that last thing. I’ve actually been learning a lot about pharmaceutical trials and how drugs are approved lately, and I’m pretty sure that “we murdered dozens of people on a weird time beach to prove that this drug cures epilepsy” isn’t going to fly with the FDA or any other drug approval agency. Also it’s not a controlled trial with a control group and all that. It’s just some people on a beach with different underlying medical conditions that the evil pharmaceutical company is trying to cure, and a lot of them ended up murdering each other, which seems like it would corrupt the data a little. One random scientist sort of hangs a lampshade on this at the end by saying that, and the evil guy just tells him it doesn’t matter, and I guess the fact that the script addressed that it didn’t make sense makes it make sense? But not really.
I think the biggest problem with the movie is all that exposition and lampshade hanging, though. There’s a lot of exposition in this movie and most of it is unnecessary and placed seemingly at random. It kind of feels like M. Night Shyamalan came up with this concept (which he didn’t, because the movie is based on a French graphic novel called Sandcastle by Pierre Oscar Levy and Frederik Peeters) and then every time someone thought of a problem with the concept the script was put on hold and some dialogue was inserted about why their hair and fingernails aren’t growing or how blood infections work. It makes the movie feel really clunky and underworked, like it needed six or seven more drafts to actually be good.
And like, it obviously wasn’t going to be good. You know how sometimes M. Night Shyamalan’s movies are good? This obviously wasn’t going to be one of those ones, the premise is just inherently too stupid for it to turn into a good movie. I was hoping it would be hilarious in how bad it was, but it was actually mostly just stupid and boring. None of the characters were very interesting and all the plot twists were pretty obvious. I guess it wasn’t like the most obvious that it was an evil drug trial to anyone who doesn’t have personal experience with evil drug trials (as soon as they had them lock their passports away in a safe I figured it out), but that part was stupid, so it doesn’t really matter.
I don’t have an inherent problem with anything in this movie, I just think it was all badly done. Also I don’t really understand what happened to the hot lady who was married to the mean doctor. She kind of just went nuts and started dressing like a cave witch and throwing rocks at everyone until her bones exploded? And like I know her daughter fell off a cliff and stuff but I’m not sure why she became a cave witch and why everyone was okay with that? But everyone kind of underreacted to everything that happened in the movie, honestly. They just sort of went with the flow, understanding that they were in an M. Night Shyamalan movie, which I guess is fair since he’s the one who drove them to the beach. Also, the little boy grew out of his bathing suit and wore a towel for a while, but the little girl also grew into a much older actor with boobs and everything and she still wore her bathing suit for a long time, even though she was older than him. Just two examples of some things that didn’t make sense. Honestly if the movie hadn’t had a magic time beach and was just about an evil pharmaceutical company holding a bunch of people against their will for drug trials for years that would been much scarier and given M. Night Shyamalan way fewer plot holes to work with.
The movie’s representation of mental illness is super sketchy, also. This shouldn’t come as a surprise when M. Night Shyamalan also directed Split, but the mentally ill character is homicidally violent and unreasonable and ends up killing another person on the beach because of it, and trying to kill another one. I’m not an expert in paranoid schizophrenia and I do understand that it sometimes makes people violent if left untreated, but I was really confused until the end of the movie when someone exposited that he was schizophrenic, because he was being written as though he had early-onset dementia, and though some of the symptoms overlap, I’m not sure that M. Night Shyamalan or anyone else who helped him write the script understands that those are different conditions. And also that maybe the only mentally ill character in your movie shouldn’t be evil and violent.
Finally, it was pretty unclear to me what was happening with the characters mentally. At some points it seemed like the child characters were still mentally children even as they’d aged, but at the point where two of them had sex and had a baby, they inserted some clunky dialogue about how they both felt like their brains were much different and that they were thinking in ways they hadn’t before, which was clearly someone trying to make it seem less sketchy that they were about to bone. But then like ten minutes after that the formerly little boy was acting like a little boy again, but then at the end of the movie he and his sister were both acting like adults. So yeah, I didn’t understand that and it seems like in a movie with so much exposition, they could have made it a little clearer what was actually going on with the main characters.
So yeah, Old is a movie with a lot of problems. The main problem, I think, and I thought about this a lot, is that it isn’t very good. So you can watch it if you really want to, but I don’t think you’ll like it, really.
Real life M. Night Shyamalan apparently personally paid for all the actors and crew in the movie to stay in a hotel during filming so nobody would get sick, which is super cool of him. It just would have also been super cool if he’d made a movie that was better than this one.
2 thoughts on “Eddie’s Review of Old”
I honestly know no one who saw the film and wasn’t confused afterwards, but I have to give this review a lot of credit because you gave better explanations than I heard so far.
Still: not a movie I want to watch.
Yeah, I don’t recommend it, it very much sucks, haha. It was very badly written, so I don’t blame people for being confused. The plot twist was actually not that much a twist, but everything else about it made no sense at all, haha.