Old ★★

High concept monster-of-the-week vibes. It feels as if it could have been an episode of The Twilight Zone, or that Mulder and Scully might have turned up to get to the bottom of everything. At least it sounds like that on paper, a beach that makes you go all old all quick. But it turns out to be at times a somewhat elegantly composed expression of ageing, at least in regard to its form anyway. It's an odd feeling, to have these considered camera movements, swaying back and forth and pulling in and out of focus, whilst characters spout awkward dialogue amidst offbeat performances.

Shyamalan has a reputation of being something of a "what if..." kind of filmmaker. Pushing a big heavy concept to the forefront, and sacrificing other elements of the film. This film feels to be an example of that, a big and dramatic situation awkwardly dragging every other element behind it. For such a film to work we need characters that we can invest in and experience the film through - we had such characters in The Sixth Sense, The Village and even The Visit - but we end up with impressions and caricatures rather than fully fleshed out characters. Much of the dialogue is heavily coated in painful exposition that it absolutely must have been intentional. What those intentions were exactly, is unclear. There seems to be a trend in Hollywood of layering levels of awareness to the film, characters joking or making knowing remarks about their situation which mirrors remarks that the audience might make. Well, at times it feels as if that's the intention here... but it sits so uncomfortably with the rest of the film.

In creating an interesting and tense environment, the film does a good job. Our perspective is limited to what those trapped upon the beach see, there are subtle contemplative moments that focus in on the creeping tide or play games with depth perception. You get a feeling that everything is unstable, constantly changing. The geography of the beach is clear, the towering cliffs feel imposing, the winding tunnels and caves feel impenetrable. But all this falls apart as soon as the characters begin talking and interacting. Nonsense about mineral deposits and crystals doesn't do anything to enhance our engagement, it just feels like a weak let down, a cop out from an interesting concept.

If you go into this expecting a mediocre Twilight Zone type of experience, you'll probably still end up a little disappointed. The need to explain everything, to leave nothing to the imagination, sucks any and all creative engagement from the film.

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