Old ★★★★

As stylish and sentimental as anything else Shyamalan has made, though held back a little by some problems, not least of which is poor acting (and apparently sound design, but that may have been a fault of my local multiplex). Here, he revisits several themes from prior films and leans into B-movie formulas he has used before. I guarantee there’ll be innumerable reviews restating the old supposed commandment “show, don’t tell” in reference to this film. But at this point, we should accept that Shyamalan has no need for that advice.

The picture could have ended ten minutes sooner and remained coherent— but it didn’t, and it’s fine. Truncating it that way would have resulted in a more pessimistic conclusion, and this is perhaps already Shyamalan’s most pessimistic work to date.

It is interesting that he tempered the body horror in a film with ample opportunities for it (though a couple scenes did make me squeamish). While that may have been a matter of budget, it’s more likely a result of Shyamalan’s own sensibilities.

Old is a dumb movie, but I don’t think anyone else could have made it work, because that would require approaching it with the same enthusiasm. It isn’t irretrievably bad; instead Shyamalan elevates some rather silly material through his legitimately childlike sincerity, expert eye for impactful camerawork, and talent for building tension.

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