Old ★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

What makes the horror truly exceptional here is how the visceral intensity (even as things are, most frighteningly, kept just out of sight) and sheer fucking relentlessness is perfectly weighted by the tragedy of what is occurring. Each sickening development is given the time to breathe, even through the increasing momentum of proceedings. Most effective for a film about having to experience sudden and dramatic physical/emotional shifts at an accelerated rate.

Shyamalan is an undeniable master of the unsettling, his repeatedly disorienting camera pushing people further afield from us/each other, establishing the space (and its interaction with the people within it) as fundamentally "wrong". So it's no surprise that the scene between Bernal and Krieps where, despite succumbing to the warped forces of time acting upon them, they reach a point of contentedness and acceptance, is so heart-wrenching; they feel everything immediately, removed from their tragic place on the expedited mortal coil, staking out a mutual moment of emotional presence in which we are so generously allowed to share.

With a bit of distance I find myself less soured by what follows (which I'll admit I was frustrated by initially; the apparent narrative payoff seems unnecessary to me, not to mention clumsy at best) at least from a thematic standpoint, as it's worth considering how dwarfing the plight of those on the beach only heightens its tragedy, not lessens it. Nevertheless I would be lying if I said I didn't wish it was handled with the same uncanny mix of grace and discomfort that the rest of the film balances so well.

This is a film I think would benefit greatly from a second watch but truth be told I found this altogether too distressing a viewing experience to be eager to rush back. It's certainly very successful in its ability to force one to confront the more unpleasant side of mortality, the sense of lost time and the urge to "escape" in the hope of slowing things down (why we go on vacations in the first place, after all), and the gleeful sadism with which it might seem to do so quickly makes way for something genuinely sad. The image of a sandcastle encroached by waves is one of the more poignant shots in a career chock full of them.

All in all my reservations don't even feel particularly significant. A couple of choices aside, I am a big fan. I feel I'm coming to terms with the fact that I love Shyamalan for the same reasons as many do, just maybe not quite as much.

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