Old: Agatha Christie Murder Mystery With A Buñuel Spin. By Jan Kalina
Have you ever walked down a beach and sat down there, to think, to ruminate? To sit down and connect with nature? For the belief that you are connected to something grander? It’s quite a simple and soothing activity. Try it sometimes.
Of course such a simple activity of self- care turns into the exact opposite when you give a pen to M. Night Shyamalan. A beach in Shyamalan’s imagination turns into a place of mayhem, dead bodies and just general malaise.
The story is quite simple. A family arrives at a hotel resort, only to be invited by the hotel concierge to a private beach that only a certain few can get to. Some other hotel guests come along as well. Once at the beach all is fine and dandy until… a dead body washes up ashore. Then it turns into an Agatha Christie murder myster- was it the rapper with a constant nose-bleed? And then other bunch of stuff starts to happen. Stuff that doesn’t really answer to the logic of time that we know.
But most importantly just like Agatha Christie does, Shyamalan locks up those characters in one place. The whole “We can’t leave the beach” gives off strong Buñuel vibes. The same amount of explanation is provided as in Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel. They just can’t leave the beach.
Now a fair bit of warning. This film is not really a horror film. I’ll bite and call it a thriller. Marketing the film as a horror is a sham and an insult to the film itself. The film’s biggest horror is the obstacles that happen to us along the way. The stuff that happens in life. You have kids and you watch them grow up and one day to your horror you find out that they are not sweet ten-year olds anymore. Or how do you deal with an illness? A doctor tells you that you have a tumor. How do you react? You’ll surely be shocked. Or losing your vision and hearing. Are not those our greatest fears? It is horrifying to deal with change and sometimes change comes way too quickly. To us it sometimes feels like our whole life changed within mere minutes.
But Old also explores the beauty that comes with the perils of life. To have a family you can rely on, a partner. And how important it is to forgive. Of course, the horrifying part is if an entire lifetime happens within a day or two.
Like most M. Night Shyamalan films Old is a fairytale for adults. A morality play. A philosophy thought experiment. And it is a pretty good one, if you are willing to play the game.
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