REVIEW: Old (2021): Time is a precious commodity.

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This is a film all about time.

A new film from M. Night Shyamalan, that alone brings in a certain amount of preconceptions that are impossible to shake due to his usual style of film making.

We begin with a family getting ready for their vacation. A trip to a sunny paradise for everyone. Mom (Prisca), Dad (Guy), and two young children, a boy (Trent) and a girl (Maddox).

This might be the last trip as we find out Mom has a tumor and their marriage is very strained. A separation and likely divorce are looming on the horizon.

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The family arrives in their paradise resort and they're greeted by staff. Some nice cocktails greet Mom and Dad while the kids are ushered over to their impressive drink fountain. There's nothing like a refreshment in hand once you're at your destination.

The children meet a young a boy that's happy to meet them and we find out he's the son of the concierge or manager of the resort that initially greeted them. They all get along like peas in a pod. They even end up on the resort beach walking up to guests and asking them "What's your name and what do you do as a profession?". Cute and everyone obliges. Then they scurry off to the next person.

Some time passes and the family is all together having a meal. The nice concierge drops buy and asks how everyone is doing and makes them feel welcome. He mentions that they're such a lovely looking family and he may have a suggestion for a fun trip. "I only tell special families like yourself about this spot" he says. A wonderful pristine beach away from the hustle and bustle of tourists and a spot to create those ever so important family bonding moments. You'll remember this for a lifetime!

Sounds good everyone thinks and away we go.

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M. Night Shyamalan can never seem to keep himself out of his own films and this is no different here. He shows up as the driver to whisk them off to the secret location. The family is not alone. They're joined by the ensemble cast at this point.

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We meet a doctor named Charles, his wife (Chrystal), mother (Agnes) and daughter (Kara). Another couple Jarin and Patricia are also present. Everybody is all set for an adventure!

We arrive at the outskirts and the offloading begins. The driver has provided food and beverage for everyone. One of the passenger notes there's a lot of food in these coolers, mentioning there's enough food in here for a week and were only going to be here a couple hours. The driver mentions that you can never be too prepared. Better more than less right?

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Everyone makes their trek down towards the beach. Lots of gear, an elderly woman and kids. The doctor asks the driver to help out with the load. He mentions he's on a schedule and unfortunately cannot help in this department. Annoying, the doctor visibly shows on his face. The trek isn't very long and they pass through a hole in the high rocks that surround the area. Everything opens up and a wonderful beach is before everyone. Wow, what a spot! The concierge was not kidding this place is beautiful.

Soon after arrival they notice there is another person on the beach. One of the children notice that it's a famous rapper. Who's that says the father? That's Mid-Sized Sedan, dad!! Say what?

This made laugh and laugh. But I digress.

One of the children decide to go for a swim and soon something floats up and nudges him on the shoulder. He turns and is surprised. A dead body of a woman makes an appearance. Visibly shocked he yells out and everyone comes running. They pull the body from the surf and see the woman is dead.

They also see Mid-Sized Sedan acting reserved and bleeding from his nose. Accusations are tossed from the doctor towards him. He doesn't trust him one bit. The tension is slowly starting to build.

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They want to inform the resort of what's going on. One starts to make the trek back between the rocks and to their original drop off point. This doesn't go as planned and he blacked out. Others eventually try and they experience the same thing. We're not going anywhere they all know.

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Here's the situation. You're on a beach. You cannot walk out due to this strange blackout effect. You cannot swim out due to the tides. You're surrounded by a huge rock wall. This is how it is and the bulk of the movie is going to take place here.

Things to start get stranger. Trent, 6 years old and Maddox 11 years old strike up a conversation with one of the couples. The man eventually asks how old the kids are, but before they could answer he tries to guess the age of Trent. "You must be 11 Trent?". Trent proclaims I'm 6! He couple looks puzzled, "Seriously, how old are you?". The mother of the two walks up and asks if they've seen her children. The couple again think everyone is going crazy. The children say I'm right here. As the mother turns she's trying to process what see's seeing. Her children have aged 5 years!

This is the premise of the film and it's no spoiler. This beach has some strange property that ages people in an accelerated time frame. They determine that each half an hour is 1 year of life. Doing the math we now know that one day is 48 years of life. This is where we are.

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The concept is extremely interesting and there are some interesting aspects that happen to the human body and mind once time is accelerated like this. We run the gamut of emotions as one would if you too were stuck in such a situation. The one scene with a pregnant teenager was a memorable one and everything that would happen in a timeline like this.

I enjoyed the movie for a large portion of it until the inevitable explanation and reveal. M. Night Shyamalan loves to do this and I wish he didn't especially in this movie. Leave the mystery as it is, we don't need someone spoon feeding the audience a rational explanation here. Leave it ambiguous and let the audience decide what they want to believe. I can see a fan editor doing some wonderful work and cleaning up the rough spots.

The acting is passable but clunky in parts. I wonder too if there are too many characters in his piece. The original family and perhaps one other would do. I figure they need to people to kill off so that's the reason for many of these additional characters.

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I do like the shot choices that disorient the viewer and leave them guessing to a certain degree. Especially before the reveal of the aging process. Back of the head shots while people are talking and showing the reactions of their faces works well. The best example is when the children have started to age. We know something is happening but the suspense is teased. Wonderful.

Lots of fun aspects playing with time and its acceleration. A few unsettling moments too, PG13 keeps this one very tame. I wonder what kind of carnage they could do with a harder rating and a riskier director? There are so many crazy ideas you could do with this premise.

The runtime is 108 minutes. The interesting part is that the film should have concluded at the 90 minute mark. The last bit is the reveal and the credits. Once the reveal started to happen my eyeballs started rolling. Leave it ambiguous already!

I see this is also based on the graphic novel Sandcastle by Pierre Oscar Levy. I might need to seek this one out, I have a strong suspicion that the ending is not what is presented in the film.

Rotten Tomatoes is giving a 50% critic rating and a 53% audience rating. I agree, a 5 from me but I would still recommend watching it. I like the premise, the film is flawed but interesting.

As an aside, I performed a quick search after writing this and found commonensemedia.org. They seem to allow user submitted movie reviews from a parent and kids viewpoint. These reviews from parents are a goldmine and certain people don't seem to understand the MPAA rating system

PG-13 - Parents Strongly Cautioned
Parents are urged to be cautious. Some material may be inappropriate for pre-teenagers.

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This is the review I read

Not what I expected
I went to the theatre to see this with my 10 year old son, he liked it so much. I was horrified. Many skeletons where shown and a young teenager was pregnant. There was one use of the work f*ing. Which my son didn’t even know the word fk. Lots of violence, too and salty language. Definitely not a movie for kids I’m going to rate this 2 stars and 15+

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Thanks for the read 🙂

All media captured by myself from the original source.

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