‘Old’ review: M. Night Shyamalan’s return to directorial greatness

A film so original in its plot, yet weirdly unidentifiable to mainstream horror subgenres. “Old” marks its territory as a wildly authentic horror film that preys on the inevitable fear of growing old. contemporary horror films seem to be laced with paranormal and demonic influences slowly boring audiences with repetitive character arches and storylines. Nonetheless, when a new antagonist presents itself in the form of a malignant time being, I think it’s safe to say that much viewership will follow. 


The film follows a group of beach vacationers enjoying tropical paradise as they slowly learn the island has begun to rapidly age them. Most directors would run from a screenplay of this nature. Sometimes an idea too original can prove to be a bit too challenging in its delivery. However, Director M. Night Shyamalan takes on this story material with a perspective so diverging and fresh. It felt reminiscent of his earlier work like “The Sixth Sense” and “The Village”, marking his comeback as one of the most divisive directors in Hollywood.


The cast of “Old” may seem very familiar to audiences, as it is signified by a plethora of young indie horror auteurs steadily making their mark in the industry. Actors such as Alex Wolff, Thomasin McKenzie, Eliza Scanlin, and Abbey Lee Kershaw grace the screen with memorable performances. While the film provides newcomers like Aaron Pierre with a remarkable platform full of veterans to react upon and find themselves as a performer. 


Aside from the actors, the film spared no expense with its production value, presenting a landscape visually breathtaking with every shot and sequence. The performances cemented with the stunning cinematography made for an unsettling yet fascinating visual storytelling experience. 


When addressing cinematography specifically, all merits must be given to cinematographer Mike Gioulakis. The steady use of the long shot pulls viewers into the wildly mysterious acts presented in each scene. Giolakis cast a hypnotic spell over audiences roping us in for every second of the film. Although the storyline is quite simple in its essence, the concept is highly original. Employing a need for exceptional delivery which Shyamalan provides.


“Old” seems to have revitalized Shamalyans directorial career with a savvy, originally frightening plot adapted perfectly from its comic book source material. With an all-star upcoming cast mending terrifying reactional dynamics grounded within a plot a little too close to home for audiences. “Old” effectively targets the fear of growing old as the story circumvents this idea into an edge-of-your-seat thriller.