OLD (2021)

Written for the screen & Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan
Based on the graphic Novel “SANDCASTLE” By Pierre-Oscar Levy & Fredrik Peters
Cinematography: Michael Gioulakis
Editor: Brett M. Reed 

Cast: Gael Garcia Bernal, Vicky Krepis, Rufus Sewell, Abbey Lee, Ken Leung, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Alex Wolff, Thomasin McKenzie, Eliza Scanlen, Embeth Daviditz, Aaron Pierre 

A vacationing family discovers that the secluded beach where they’re relaxing for a few hours is somehow causing them to age rapidly, reducing their entire lives into a single day. 

I can admit lately M Night Shyamalan is a filmmaker who has gotten more interesting with age. I loved UNBREAKABLE but was never really hooked by any of his other films until THE VISIT came around and truly left me transfixed.

This is a movie that is good entertainment even though its story night feels far-fetched for some. Keep in mind this is a movie meant to enjoy and keep your interest. As the film goes along it manages to do that with some shocks, twists, and turns. 

The exotic locale is one of His first films set outside of Philadelphia, his hometown even if the main character’s family is from there. Even if filmed during the pandemic this is the perfect film for watching as it seems inspired by it. Even if this film is based on a graphic novel written years before.

The film is an ensemble even though we mainly follow one family: the parents and kids. How they are changing and reacting and we see others change also. Even though the title and trailers give away the major plot. This is a good film to go in and discover.

As yes there are some over-the-top elements and some do unintentional camp which seems to be something of a regular occurrence in his films. 

This film seems inspired as an either overlong TWILIGHT ZONE episode, a less technical BLACK MIRROR or inspired by LOST. The later of which really hits home with a similar cast member Ken Leung 

Abby Lee’s character seems to always have the worst fate in movies she is in. As she has the most memorable scene in this film that is done with special effects and similarly in NEON DEMON. She has scenes of grotesque violence. She is a sight to see here and comes back hard later in the film. In one of the most truly terrifying scenes. 

As an ensemble, you can already pick who is most likely to be the off-centered crazy one eventually. Just as you can usually predict who will be the victims. The only mystery is when and how. Which might be why most of the cast seems to be foreign actors as too many recognizable names and faces would only leave us to guess more. Whereas here the actors mostly come with no baggage. 

The math of aging doesn’t always seem to match up, but the actors’ performances are always believable and heartfelt. 

There are certain aspects that are easy to predict but the film does offer what seem to be what some might expect exclusively from writer/Director Shamalayan: a twist and a certain darkness. Though I must say that as dark as his material can get there is usually an uplifting ending or an element of one for the characters in the long run.

The ending offers a good explanation that could easily have been something that most could see happening. 

This movie is best viewed without any expectations. Shyamalan’s style is very smooth when it comes to framing, Camerawork, and presentation. Over the years he has maintained twists but they seem less forced and expected. They now feel more natural with the rest of the film. Not necessarily hinging on it as in the past. As his films feel more than that these days. They feel more well-rounded.

By the end this feels like a fun guilty pleasure filled with chills.

Grade: C+


Directed & Edited By: Jonas Cuaron 
Written By: Jonas Cuaron & Mateo Garcia 
Cinematography By: Damian Garcia 

Cast: Jeffrey Dean Morgan , Gael Garcia Bernal, Alondra Hidalgo, Marco Perez, Lew Temple, Diego Catano 

A group of people trying to cross the border from Mexico into the United States encounter a man who has taken border patrol duties into his own racist hands.

This film is a tight simple thriller. That is appealing in it’s simplicity. Not too much to think about or question. Shot all out in the open no indoor scenes.

Like a horror film, it has an unstoppable villain who works as a slasher. Who we know very little about. Whose reason for his killings are very vague, you just know he is evil. Played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan (who is becoming familiar in these types of roles which seem to fit better Than the anti-hero in action films usually developed from graphic novels)

As we watch him murder people who are sneaking across the border for no real personal reason, of course, the film wants us to assume that he is trying to keep them out of the country and doesn’t see them as human beings just prey. At least that is what might be hinted at. As he seems to be doing it out of patriotism

Except that he is kind of disrespectful to the border cops also.

The film tries to provoke a social or political message of sorts. That really hits home in this current American climate. As this might be the type of film our current government would love that is until the ending. I can only assume this. Though it is more a remote survival movie. Where the characters play cat and mouse throughout.

There is plenty of graphic violence. Even as the victims are anonymous. Except for the fact that you feel sorry for them as they don’t deserve their fates. Especially for just seeking a new And better life for themselves.

The film is still a tight mostly dialogue-less grilled that pumps itself up with impending doom and dread throughout. As there is no humor or true happiness here.

It’s admirable what is done in this film with a simple premise that does so much and how full the film feels. It would be nice if the film had a little more substance. Though it is quite entertaining without it. 

The film definitely has style and luckily does Amy go overboard with it. So that it becomes a distraction In itself or become all the film is truly about.

The film becomes questionable when at the end the villain all of a sudden becomes vulnerable. Though I believe that is to remind us that the is human. Which I don’t believe we ever forget. It also allows the film not to become a total horror film. As it obviously has bigger or better aspirations for itself.

The direction by Jonas Cuaron Son of director Alphonso Cuaron (GRAVITY, Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN) while good also makes the film feel more anonymous than anything as you know nothing really about the characters other than some tidbits and circumstances that are presented. Given the situation the characters are in this is understandable. It’s just the film that never makes it’s presence felt. So why should you choose this one from any other random thriller that is offered usually on VOD with a big star name attached?

With this film at least there feels like an effort to make something and not just try to make a film to make a profit only.

Grade: C+