I just saw M. Night Shyamalan’s Old. It delivers a hooky premise (wealthy tourists are unable to leave a cliffside cove in which the laws of time and biology are bizarrely suspended) but without much rhyme or consistency.
It’s interesting and trippy and semi-spooky — I was certainly never bored — but there are all kinds of loose ends and head-scratchy developments that don’t line up or unify. And yet despite the haphazard plotting it feels oddly intriguing.
In other words, the fact that the low-key horror elements don’t make sense or build into a cohesive whole strangely works in Old‘s favor. It feels like a first draft of an experimental creeper, written by someone new to the game who doesn’t care about following the usual rules. I was saying to myself “this is kinda sloppy but at least it’s different, and I’ve no idea where it’s going.”
And then during the final 15 minutes Old suddenly loses its nerve and turns logical — it tries to impose order by making sense of things (villains, conspiracy, arrival of law), and in so doing it betrays and destroys itself. A complete collapse.
As I left the theatre a guy booed. But without the imposition of logic and rationality during the finale, I’m betting that the booing guy would have been more accepting and perhaps even won over.