“Old” (Rated T)
Cast: Gael Garcia Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Rufus Sewell, Alex Wolff, Aaron Pierre
Where to watch: In theaters
This is like a car wreck on the highway.
One tire is shredded to pieces over here, and one wheel is off and rolling over there. The back seat is on the median. And the rest of the vehicle is sideways on the shoulder. It’s just a complete mess.
But you can’t help but stare!
And so, you do that long, almost painful drive-by – holding up all the traffic behind you, no less – craning your neck to take in all the sights.
“Oh no! That looks really bad!”
“Ewww!” I wish I hadn’t seen that!”
And, “My Gosh! How in God’s name did this catastrophe happen?”
That last question is one you may find yourself asking frequently during at least the first hour or so of the mostly ridiculous new film “Old”, as you’ll likely wonder who greenlit this yet another M. Night Shyamalan production (in my best “Hit Spot” voice – for my older Bahamian readers).
Shyamalan is a “master” of the ridiculous. But while many of his movies start off reasonably intriguing, and manage to captivate you for quite a bit before nosediving into an abyss of absurdity, “Old” almost immediately throws itself off a wobbly cliff, getting more incomprehensible with every single minute.
And yet, you won’t be able to look away, as your mind desperately seeks answers to this wacky mystery.
A family on a tropical holiday discovers that the secluded beach where they are relaxing for a few hours is somehow causing them to age rapidly, reducing their entire lives into a single day.
That premise sounds, at once, both fascinating and foolish. But it is mainly the former.
However, in the hands of writer and director Shyamalan, who loosely based the story on “Sandcastle”, a graphic novel by Pierre Oscar Levy and Frederik Peeters, “Old” plays out like a clumsy, mystery version of “Crash” (the 2004 upset Best Picture Oscar winner – itself more-than-often clumsy), and is laborious, awkward, uncomfortable and weird.
To be fair, what we hear and see on the screen is perhaps exactly how we would all behave in such a bizarre scenario. But for quite a while one ponders whether one made a mistake walking into this theater, especially as things begin to make less and less sense.
And just as the mystery appears to be on track to never being resolved, there is indeed a resolution. Is it a satisfying pay off? That’s debatable. However, it is quite something, and in keeping with the usual and notorious “Shyamalan twist”.
A word of caution: if you are a conspiracy theorist, and if at this moment in time, you’ve graduated to what others might consider a “professional”, with conspiracies working in overdrive, perhaps you should stay away from “Old”. Just keep watching YouTube or getting your news from social media posts. There’s no need to allow this film to further send you over the edge.
We’ve got enough car wrecks to deal with.
• Dwight Strachan is the host/producer of “Morning Blend” on Guardian Radio and station manager. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on twitter @morningblend969.