Old ★★★

This is why you need to wear sunscreen at the beach.

Despite being an M. Night apologist, I totally went into this expecting to hate it. I saw the trailer…I saw the clips…and for the first 20 minutes of the film I was pretty much decided on the fact I wasn’t going to like it…

So here is my explanation for why I liked it, despite the overwhelming amount of things that I really really did not like:

I’ll start with the bad. The most obvious thing is the acting. The acting is not great (mostly). There are moments where I *genuinely* feel as if M. Night simply did not show up on set to direct them. I can’t blame the actors completely because, of course, the reason that the acting is so stilted at times is because…

M. Night cannot write natural dialogue. I think he’s just physically incapable of it at this point. For someone who CONSTANTLY talks about on Twitter how many rewrites and revisions he does of every script, you would THINK that at some point he could look at a line of dialogue of his and think to himself “well that doesn’t seem right, now does it?”— But no, we continue to get films that feel like rough drafts…at least in the dialogue department. 

Speaking of the writing, the characters themselves are pretty shallow. They’re basically just caricatures of a certain traits. Aside from the main family, the characters don’t feel like real people. Any emotion with them falls flat. Forgettable characters. Moving on.

Next up, we’ve got the cinematography…which honestly is an enigma. Like truly truly baffling stuff. Old is nicely photographed, it looks incredibly pretty being shot on film…but the camera choices made throughout this film are probably some of the most bizarre stuff I’ve seen in a while. There’s so much where I couldn’t possibly fathom what M. Night was trying to do with the framing for certain shots or the wildly distracting camera movements and zooms. So much of it was just too awkward. And chaotic.

That all being said, there was plenty that I really enjoyed about Old. Enough to make me give this a 3 (although I could have EASILY given this a 2.5 if it had ended on a slightly more sour note).

I like the concept, and I honestly felt that the execution was good (enough). It’s a very imaginative film that often does things I didn’t expect it to do—especially being a studio horror film. I didn’t expect risks to be taken, but there definitely were some. I kinda expect studio films to just make the safe and marketable choices always, but I suppose M. Night’s attachment was enough marketability to allow for some odd creative decisions to be made…as per usual. I thought there was a lot of fun to be had once things got going. The concept was played around with enough to keep my interest and feel satisfied by what was explored with it.

I also found certain moments to be unexpectedly poignant. And although these scenes are sandwiched by cheesier moments, I still found them to be effective and oddly moving. The scenes that worked best were the ones where the camera was just allowed to sit with the characters and tell the story, instead of just having the characters awkwardly explain it. That’s why I liked the scenes near the end with the family on the beach. I thought these moments were sweet and the emotions that were trying to come through for the entirety of the film finally came through, allowing for a brief reflection on mortality.

Kinda strange though that Night cited a couple Peter Weir films as influences for this movie because I didn’t feel it was evident at all…neither thematically or visually…maybe some rock visuals inspired by Picnic at Hanging Rock? That’s the only thing I can think of.

Old is a cacophony of strange, perplexing decisions that—more often than not—stumbles to tell its story…but I really enjoyed it nonetheless.


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