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Same Old M. Night

Director M. Night Shyamalan provides audiences with his latest thriller in Universal Pictures, Old. Before the divorce, married couple Guy (Gael García Bernal) and Prisca Cappa (Vicky Krieps) have decided to travel to a tropical resort with their young children Trent and Maddox as the last family vacation. Upon arriving, Trent strikes up a friendship with the hotel manager's nephew, and the rest of the family prepares for a much-needed getaway.

Wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of the resort, the Cappas decide to visit a secluded beach based on the advice of the hotel manager. Joining the Cappa family are surgeon Charles (Rufus Sewell) and his wife Chrystal (Abbey Lee), their young daughter Kara, and his mother Agnes (Kathleen Chalfant). In addition, there's married couple Jarin (Ken Leung) and Patricia (Nikki Amuka-Bird), as well as rapper Mid-Sized Sedan (Aaron Pierre), who is already on the island when everyone else arrives.

The day starts normally. However, when a body turns up in the water, things take a macabre turn. Within a few hours, the six-year-old Trent becomes 15 while Maddox is 16. Furthermore, the secluded beach is somehow causing everyone to age rapidly -- reducing their entire lives into a single day. Will the guests make it off the island before it's too late?

For his fourteenth film as a director, M. Night Shyamalan takes inspiration from the Swiss graphic novel Sandcastle by Pierre Oscar Levy and Frederik Peeters. I was unfamiliar with the source material, and I can count on one hand the M. Night Shyamalan films I liked. However, the director's recent work was impressive, and I was intrigued by the trailer and the premise for Old.

One of the first things I want to commend Shyamalan for is using a primarily unknown cast. Outside of Rufus Sewell and Alex Wolff, who plays the teenage version of Trent, I was unfamiliar with the cast. This choice allowed me to identify with the characters more and the dire circumstances they found themselves in on the island. The performances are pretty much what you would expect in a film of this sort, with Rufus Sewell turning in an excellent villain performance. I was also fond of Alex Wolff and Thomasin McKenzie, who portray the teenage versions of Trent and Maddox and the chemistry they display as siblings.

Despite a run time of 108 minutes, though, Shyamalan's latest isn't without its problems. The handling of Mid-Sized Sedan's (Aaron Pierre) arc is terrible, and both the actor and his character deserve a more substantial angle. I also wanted some more depth provided regarding the island and its mysterious features of advanced aging. Thankfully, the so-called twist in the film works, and in the age of a pandemic, it's even a bit scarier.

I've never been a die-hard fan of M. Night Shyamalan. In all honesty, I think The Sixth Sense is overrated, aside from the twist ending. However, when M. Night Shyamalan is on his A-Game, he can provide a decent flick. While Old isn't the director at his best, the film did pique my interest and receives a mild recommendation.

Final Grade: C+

Old is in theaters now

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