The writer-director-producer’s career began so impressively with “The Sixth Sense” and “Unbreakable” that early admirers of his work might have expected too much, becoming more and more mystified as he drifted towards second-tier productions like “The Village” and “Dame dans l’eau.”
The premise finds a family of four, led by parents played by Gael Garcia Bernal and Vicky Krieps (“Phantom Thread”), arriving at a lavish resort (the movie was shot in the Dominican Republic), wanting to show their young children a good time despite the obvious tension in their marriage.
In search of activities, they are directed by the hotel manager to a private and secluded beach, which he describes as a “once in a lifetime experience”. Once there, however – accompanied by two other families – strange things start to happen, as everyone begins to age rapidly, a condition more immediately noticeable in children, but not limited to them.
What is the cause, and is there a way out? For starters, there is no cell phone reception, and the guide (Shyamalan, in one of his usual cameos) dropped them off and left.
Inspired by a graphic novel titled “Sandcastle”, the macabre premise is certainly in the director’s wheelhouse. But once the setup is established, the escalating situations become more and more schlocky, sometimes resembling a bad 1970s horror movie, and the efforts to infuse heart into these hastily introduced characters feel especially forced. .
These gaps leave the cast – which also includes Rufus Sewell, Ken Leung, Alex Wolff, and Nikki Amuka-Bird – stuck in more than one way. And while there’s a fair amount of clarity in the resolution, unlike in Shyamalan’s early triumphs, the finish (which does better the less you dwell on) doesn’t provide the kind of punch that it does. kind of exercise could use.
As tempting as it may be to say that Shyamalan’s allure hasn’t aged well, “Split” questioned that argument. While the genre portrayed by “Old” has an encouraging track record, to the extent that it takes some effort to bring people back to the movies, it would be nice to reward them with a more satisfying movie than this.
“Old” premieres in US theaters on July 23. It is classified PG-13.
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