M. Night Shyamalan has made some truly great mystery thrillers during his career as a Hollywood writer/director. The Sixth Sense, Signs, Split, The Visit…. I’ve enjoyed most of his films. Unfortunately, he’s also made a few of the worst films ever, The Happening being the most notable in my opinion. His latest film Old is not nearly as bad as that, but it’s also not very good. The big issue with this thriller is that Shyamalan doesn’t know how to fill the time with interesting plot details. There are interesting plot devices to be enjoyed, but overall this comes off as meandering and somewhat lost.
The cast is one of the positives this film offers up. Vicky Krieps was the real standout for me, her performance is crafted to make you empathize with her and it works. I grew to really like her character a lot. Gael Garcia Bernal plays Krieps’s husband and his performance is crafted well too; he made for a good partner to her and proved to be quite likable. I’m always happy to see Alex Wolff in anything as I’ve loved him in previous films such as Hereditary and Jumanji. He does a nice job with what he’s given. I also want to recognize and praise Nikki Amuka-Bird for her performance, I had never seen her in anything prior to this but I want to see more from her… very talented!
The acting is not what pulls this film down, the script is. This plot is a good idea in theory and I thought this had some potential to be interesting, but the writing here just lets the whole project down. A plot summary is just that, only a summary. You must fill out a feature length script with interesting material to keep your audience engaged and Shyamalan fails to do that here.
The beginning of the film focuses on letting us get to know these people a little bit and I was liking what I was seeing but once the mystery kicks into gear, things plateau. There is very little thrill or excitement to this “mystery” that these characters find themselves in. The film just meanders along until the third act. I found myself rather bored during the middle of this and hoping a twist of some sort would be presented to liven things up.
Unfortunately, my hopes were futile. Shyamalan presents the scary freaky idea and then just walks away. I feel like he didn’t really know what he wanted to make because the scariness wears off after a certain point and this almost becomes a drama. The end of the second act is full of emotional scenes that feel out of place for a supposed mystery thriller film. The ending presents a somewhat interesting explanation for why all this occurred but after spending almost the entire runtime meandering about, a last minute interesting detail doesn’t do much to uplift.
This plot is just in dire need of more ideas and nuance. I do hope this cast shows up in more stuff though because while they weren’t given much to work with, they still managed to give worthy performances. I would only recommend this on a slow day if it’s on TV and there’s nothing else on. This is definitely not worth the full price of admission. I know Shyamalan has it in him, we’ve all seen it, but unfortunately “it” is not present in Old.
Shyamalan’s newest, Old, ends up being a misfire due to a lack of interesting material. The cast is talented but this weak script lets them all down. Better luck next time M. Night!
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