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Old is a 2021 American thriller film written, directed, and produced by M. Night Shyamalan. It is based on the French-language Swiss graphic novel Sandcastle by Pierre Oscar Levy and Frederik Peeters. The film features an ensemble cast consisting of Gael García Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Rufus Sewell, Alex Wolff, Thomasin McKenzie, Abbey Lee, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Ken Leung, Eliza Scanlen, Aaron Pierre, Embeth Davidtz, and Emun Elliott. The plot follows a group of people who find themselves aging rapidly on a secluded beach.

Shyamalan decided to adapt Sandcastle into a film after receiving it as a Father's Day gift. The then-untitled project was announced in September 2019, with the filmmaker revealing a partnership with Universal Pictures. The following year, filming took place in the Dominican Republic for three months, during the COVID-19 pandemic, with cinematographer Michael Gioulakis.

Old premiered at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City on July 19, 2021, and was theatrically released in the United States on July 23. It has grossed $67.17 million worldwide and received mixed reviews from critics, with praise for the cinematography and concept, but criticism towards the screenplay and acting. The film's themes and twist ending received a polarized response.

Plot

Married couple Guy and Prisca Cappa travel to a tropical resort with their young children Maddox and Trent as a final family vacation before they divorce. On the advice of the resort's manager, the family visits a secluded beach also occupied by three additional parties: rapper Mid-Sized Sedan and a female companion; surgeon Charles, his wife Chrystal, their young daughter Kara, and Charles's mother Agnes; and Jarin and Patricia Carmichael, a close-knit husband and wife. Tragedy strikes the group's vacation when the drowned body of Mid-Sized Sedan's companion is discovered, which is followed by Agnes suddenly dying. Strange events soon occur, including the three children becoming teenagers. The group realizes that the beach is rapidly aging them, with an entire year of growth passing approximately every 30 minutes. They also discover that at least one member of each family has an underlying medical condition and that trying to leave will result in them blacking out and waking up on the beach.

Further tragedy occurs when a bond between the maturing Kara and Trent leads to Kara rapidly giving birth, only for the baby to quickly die from the beach's effects. Amid the group struggling to escape the beach, Trent and Maddox discover the notebook of a previous traveler, along with indications of them being watched. The attempts to leave grow tenser when Charles's worsening schizophrenia causes him to kill Mid-Sized Sedan. Jarin drowns and Kara falls to her death as they look for a way off, while Patricia and Chrystal die from their respective conditions of epilepsy and hypocalcemia becoming exacerbated. Charles eventually attacks Guy at night in a schizophrenic episode, but Prisca slashes him with a rusted knife, instigating a fatal infection. As the night winds down, an elderly Guy and Prisca make amends before dying moments apart from each other.

With only the now-adult Maddox and Trent remaining by the next morning, Trent revisits a secret message given to him by the manager's nephew, which he deduces is connected to an underwater coral passage. Suspecting that the passage will allow him and Maddox to not lose consciousness while leaving the beach, he and his sister start swimming through the coral. After they fail to emerge from the water, a resort employee monitoring them reports that the entire group has died.

It is revealed that the resort is a front for a research team conducting clinical trials of new medical drugs, with guests being used as unwitting test subjects. Since the beach naturally accelerates the lives of the guests, the researchers have been able to complete the drugs' lifetime trials within a day. The researchers move forward with luring a new group to the beach but are interrupted by the arrival of Trent and Maddox, who survived their underwater swim. Using the notebook as evidence of several guests going missing, the siblings are able to bring the police to the resort. Once the researchers are arrested, Trent and Maddox head home to live with their aunt, uncertain of their future.

Cast

  • Gael García Bernal as Guy Cappa, an actuary married to Prisca and the father of Trent and Maddox.
  • Vicky Krieps as Prisca Cappa, a museum curator with a stomach tumor married to Guy and the mother of Trent and Maddox.
  • Rufus Sewell as Charles, a schizophrenia-battling surgeon married to Chrystal, the father of Kara, and Agnes's son.
  • Alex Wolff and Emun Elliott as Trent Cappa, Guy and Prisca's son and Maddox's younger brother. Wolff plays Trent at 15 and Elliot plays Trent as an adult, while Nolan River plays Trent at 6 and Luca Faustino Rodriguez plays Trent at 11.
  • Thomasin McKenzie and Embeth Davidtz as Maddox Cappa, Guy and Prisca's daughter and Trent's older sister. McKenzie plays Maddox at 16 and Davidtz plays Maddox as an adult, while Alexa Swinton plays Maddox at 11.
  • Abbey Lee as Chrystal, Charles's wife, Kara's mother, and Agnes's daughter-in-law who has hypocalcemia.
  • Nikki Amuka-Bird as Patricia Carmichael, an epileptic psychologist married to Jarin.
  • Ken Leung as Jarin Carmichael, a nurse and Patricia's husband.
  • Eliza Scanlen as Kara, Charles and Chrystal's daughter and Agnes's granddaughter. Scanlen portrays Kara at 15, while Kylie Begley portrays Kara at 6 and Mikaya Fisher portrays Kara at 11.
  • Aaron Pierre as Mid-Sized Sedan / Brendan, a rapper afflicted with hemophilia.

Additional cast members include Kathleen Chalfant as Agnes, Gustaf Hammarsten as the resort manager, Francesca Eastwood and Matthew Shear as resort employees Madrid and Sidney, Kailen Jude as the manager's nephew Idlib, and M. Night Shyamalan as the resort employee who drives the guests to the beach and monitors them.

Themes

When NMETemplate:'s Beth Webb asked about the different themes tackled in Old, Shyamalan responded, "It's definitely about our relationship to time and, in my opinion, our dysfunctional relationship to time that we all have. Until we're forced to examine it, whether it's a pandemic or the factors that are on this situation for these characters, that they're trapped on this beach and they have to reflect on their relationship to time. You see some characters unable to navigate this and then some characters find peace. Why did they find peace and how did they find peace in the midst of all of this chaos? So there's this conversation about that, the one that I'm having of myself with time."[1]

At the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival, Shyamalan said that the film's focus on aging reminded him of his father, who has dementia, and his children as he watches them grow up. During the event, Alex Wolff compared the film to the COVID-19 pandemic, "Coming out of COVID it feels like time just stopped. And that's what the movie's literally about."[2][3] At the film's premiere, Wolff was asked for his interpretation of the film and said it was "an allegorical existential sort of meditation on getting older."[4] Other cast members chimed in; Nikki Amuka-Bird said the film was about not taking nature for granted, Gael García Bernal said it was about questioning how time travels differently for other people, and Vicky Krieps found that it was about "love and family and all these things that are much stronger than any fears — the fear of aging and the fear of death."[4]

Production

File:M. Night Shyamalan (28769148857) (cropped 2).jpg

Writer, director, and producer M. Night Shyamalan

In September 2019, Universal Pictures announced its plans to distribute two then-untitled independently-financed thriller films written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. In a statement, Universal Pictures President Peter Cramer said that these projects contained "highly original stories," while Shymalan added, "There are wonderful studios out there, but Universal has made it a mandate to release original films. They are the best at finding an audience for new stories with unexpected tones. I believe original films are crucial to the longevity of the theatrical experience."[5]

In May 2020, Eliza Scanlen, Thomasin McKenzie, Aaron Pierre, Alex Wolff, and Vicky Krieps entered negotiations to star.[6] That June, they all joined the cast alongside Abbey Lee, Nikki Amuka-Bird, and Ken Leung.[7] In July, it was reported that Shyamalan, Marc Bienstock, and Ashwin Rajan would produce the project through Perfect World Pictures and Blinding Edge Pictures,[8] with Gael García Bernal also being cast.[9] In August, Rufus Sewell, Embeth Davidtz, and Emun Elliott were all announced as part of the ensemble cast.[10]

On September 26, 2020, principal photography began in the Dominican Republic and to celebrate, Shyamalan revealed the film's title and published its first promotional release poster.[11] That same day, Collider reported that the film was an adaptation of Sandcastle, the French graphic novel by Swiss authors Pierre Oscar Levy and Frederik Peeters, which Shyamalan had received as a collective Father's Day gift from his three daughters in 2017.[12] Old marks the first film of Shyamalan's career to have no shooting take place around his hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[13] With an $18 million budget,[14] filming took place during the COVID-19 pandemic with cinematographer Michael Gioulakis, using 35mm film,[15] and concluded on November 15, 2020.[16] After filming wrapped, Shyamalan said Old was the first film to be shot during the pandemic in the Dominican Republic and that throughout the shoot, no one tested positive for the virus as he paid for the production crew's ten-week stay at a hotel.[17]

Old was inspired by films created during the Australian New Wave, including Walkabout (1971) and Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), along with The Exterminating Angel (1962), Kuroneko (1968), Jaws (1975), and The Twilight Zone.[18] To create a claustrophobic feeling, Shyamalan employed several filming techniques from Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon (1950) and Ran (1985).[19] As a result, Old was mostly filmed in a single location, the Playa El Valle beach located between two mountains on the north coast of Santa Bárbara de Samaná. Additional filming took place at Pinewood Dominican Republic Studios in Juan Dolio and in several locations around Samaná.[20][21] To capture footage of the surrounding nature, Shyamalan's daughter, Ishana, served as the film's second unit director.[22] His other daughter, Saleka Shyamalan, wrote an original song for the film titled "Remain" that was inspired by the topic of marriage vows and U2's "With or Without You," used to "highlight the relationship between Guy and Prisca and the love that exists between them."[23][24]

Several cast members recalled Shyamalan using storyboards to frame every shot in the film.[25] Ishana Shyamalan described her father's choice as a "very prescribed and programmatic" approach, while Wolff said the director "had such precision in terms of what age he wanted you to be and where he wanted you to be at that age. Night would just guide you where you needed to be emotionally, and then it would happen naturally."[22] In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Wolff said he and McKenzie were the first actors to be cast after submitting audition tapes, and recalled passing out during the filming of the pregnancy scene due to high temperatures.[26] During post-production, editing was completed by Brett M. Reed,[27] and the film's score was composed by Trevor Gureckis and released by Back Lot Music on July 23, 2021.[28][29]

Release

Old was originally going to be released by Universal Pictures on February 26, 2021,[30] but in April 2020,[31] the film was removed from the studio's release schedule after its film Nobody was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[32] In June 2020, Universal Pictures announced that Old would be theatrically released on July 23, 2021.[33] A premiere for the film was held at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City on July 19, 2021, which was attended by its cast and crew.[4]

On February 7, 2021, during Super Bowl LV, Universal Pictures aired a 30-second television spot for Old.[34][35] Anthony D'Alessandro from Deadline Hollywood said the teaser reminded him of a two-part episode of The Brady Bunch, where an ancient tiki brings the group bad luck and causes Greg (Barry Williams) to suffer a surfing accident;[36] while, writing for Syfy Wire, Josh Weiss said the teaser "definitely bears Shyamalan's signature slow-boil tension."[37] On May 27, 2021, a theatrical release poster and an official trailer were released, which VarietyTemplate:'s Antonio Ferme said brought "thrills and chills," and Weiss described as "a reverse Benjamin Button situation that the characters need to reverse before they shrivel up and die."[38][39] That July, an exclusive image of the film was released in a magazine issue of Empire.[40]

Summarizing the film's marketing results, RelishMix wrote that it was being compared to the horror films A Quiet Place Part II and The Conjuring 3, Shyamalan's Split and Glass, and Edgar Wright's Last Night in Soho, as well as ABC's Lost. The site added that there were "Conversational tones swings from excitement, fear, curiosity, caution, warnings to the characters in the film — to questions about the pregnant girl and numerous guesses about how the films ends and plot twists."[41] By July 2021, the film's promotional content was viewed a total of 113.2 million times, which included 41.2 million views from three YouTube videos and 30.3 million views from nineteen videos on Facebook. According to Universal Pictures, the Super Bowl teaser was viewed at least 100 million times, but overall, videos promoting the film "[fell] short of the norm along with daily click-rates."[41] A SnapChat aging filter created for the film also gained 23 million views worldwide on its first day after it was used by celebrities such as Shaquille O'Neal, Kenny Smith, and Charles Barkley.[41]

Reception

Box office

As of August 12, 2021, Old has grossed $40.56 million in the United States and Canada, and $26.6 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $67.17 million.[42][43]

A week before its release, Variety and Deadline Hollywood reported that film analytics had predicted the film would make $12–15 million in its opening weekend, with some noting that its competition, which had the same target audience, could impact box office revenues.[44][45] Released alongside Snake Eyes and Joe Bell on July 23, 2021, in 3,355 theaters, Old made $6.9 million on its first day, including $1.5 million from Thursday night previews. It went on to debut to $16.85 million,[46] making it the sixth film of Shyamalan's to top the box office, though it marked the lowest opening weekend of his career.[41][47] Describing the openings of Old and Snake Eyes as "weak," Michael Cieply wrote an analysis to explain the audience decline at the box office, streaming sites, and television by using Occam's razor, "Maybe, as a group, we are suffering from 'screen fatigue' — not in the narrow sense of migraines, eye strain, and Computer Vision Syndrome, but in a much bigger way, as a culture. We are tired of Zoom calls. We are tired of event television. We are really tired of looking at ourselves on media screens, large and small."[48] In its second and third weekends, the film made $6.86 million and $4.1 million, respectively.[49]

Worldwide, Old debuted in 23 markets, making $6.5 million in its first weekend;[50] the top countries were Russia ($2.1 million), the United Kingdom ($1.1 million), Mexico ($800,000), Italy ($600,000), and France ($500,000).[51] In its second weekend, the film made $7.5 million, including a $1.2 million opening in Spain,[52] and grossed $4.4 million in its third.[53]

Critical response

Template:Rotten Tomatoes prose The website's critical consensus reads, "Old has no shortage of interesting ideas -- and writer-director M. Night Shyamalan's uneven execution will intrigue or annoy viewers, with little middle ground between."[54] Template:MC film[55] Audiences polled by CinemaScore, 52% female and 62% at or over the age of 25, gave the film an average grade of "C+" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported 61% of audience members gave it a positive score, with 37% saying they would definitely recommend it.[41]

Old received criticism for its screenplay, dialogue, and acting. Wendy Ide of The Observer said the film's exposition felt "ponderous and mannered" and asked: "If we can't believe the characters, how are we meant to accept the film's central premise?"[56] WXIX-TVTemplate:'s Terrence "TT" Todd gave a similar response and said that while the premise was interesting, the plot was confusing and could have been explained better as its own television series.[57] From Vox, Alissa Wilkinson wrote that "Shyamalan has not grown any more skilled at writing dialogue over the years," but found that at its best, the film was comparable to Luis Buñuel's The Exterminating Angel.[58]

Meanwhile, the film's cinematography received praise. While criticizing the film in general, Jocelyn Novec from the Associated Press said it had "an enticing premise and pretty scenery."[59] In his Deadline Hollywood review, Pete Hammond wrote, "I don't expect this one to age very well, and some of it is just laughably bad. At the very least, as a summertime theatrical release, the stunning location should give audiences a nice respite from the heat."[60] Critic Richard Roeper described the film's main location as "absolutely breathtaking,"[61] and The New YorkerTemplate:'s Richard Brody wrote that "with spare methods and sharp images, the director turns a simple premise into potent fantasy."[62]

The film's themes and twist ending received a mixed response from critics. Sandcastle, the novel the film is based on, ends without explaining why the beach ages its guest, and Wilkinson found that ending to be "more satisfying."[58] From ABC News, Peter Travers said he was "shocked" to find "how clumsily [Shyamalan] handles potent themes about sudden death and the collapse of time that should resonate powerfully in the COVID-19 era. Even his argument for family values in the face of global youth worship feels rote."[63] Writing for The New York Times, Glenn Kenny said, "Shyamalan's fluid filmmaking style serves him especially well here [and] the way he switches out his actors as their characters age is seamless," but found that "while Shyamalan is often cited for his tricky endings, it's arguable that he doesn't quite stick the landing with this one."[64]

References

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  2. Crist, Allison (June 19, 2021). M. Night Shyamalan Teases 'Old' at Tribeca: 'No One Has Ever Seen Anything Like It'.
  3. Holub, Christian (June 19, 2021). M. Night Shyamalan and Alex Wolff detail the pandemic production of Old at Tribeca Festival.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 White, Abbey (July 20, 2021). 'Old' Cast on Film's Ending and Making an M. Night Shyamalan Movie That Doesn't Hinge on Its Twist.
  5. McClintock, Pamela (September 16, 2019). M. Night Shyamalan Sets His Next Two Movies at Universal for Release in 2021, 2023.
  6. Kroll, Justin (May 8, 2020). M. Night Shyamalan Sets Ensemble Cast for Next Movie (Exclusive).
  7. Kroll, Justin (June 22, 2020). M. Night Shyamalan's Next Film Rounds Out Ensemble.
  8. Galuppo, Mia (July 21, 2020). Gael García Bernal Joins M. Night Shyamalan Thriller at Universal.
  9. Kroll, Justin (July 21, 2020). Gael García Bernal Joins M. Night Shyamalan's Next Film.
  10. Kroll, Justin (August 20, 2020). Rufus Sewell, Embeth Davidtz & Emun Elliott Round Out Cast of M. Night Shyamalan's Next Film.
  11. Beresford, Trilby (September 26, 2020). M. Night Shyamalan Reveals Title and Artwork for Upcoming Thriller.
  12. Sneider, Jeff (September 26, 2020). Exclusive: M. Night Shyamalan's 'Old' Is Inspired by Graphic Novel 'Sandcastle'.
  13. Vitarelli, Alicia (July 22, 2021). Chester County's M. Night Shyamalan talks about his new supernatural thriller 'Old'.
  14. Rubin, Rebecca (July 25, 2021). Box Office Twist: M. Night Shyamalan's 'Old' Beats 'Space Jam' and 'Snake Eyes'.
  15. Gemmill, Allie (November 14, 2020). M. Night Shyamalan's 'Old' Set Photo May Contain an Unusual Clue.
  16. Pearson, Ben (November 17, 2020). 'Old': M. Night Shyamalan Wraps Production on His Latest Thriller.
  17. Hersko, Tyler (June 18, 2021). M. Night Shyamalan on 'Complicated' Shooting of 'Old' During the Pandemic in Hurricane Season.
  18. Egan, Toussaint (August 2, 2021). M. Night Shyamalan reveals the movies and TV show that inspired Old.
  19. Ouellette, Jennifer (July 24, 2021). Review: Old is a mostly solid film undermined by jarring twist ending.
  20. Cremona, Patrick (July 23, 2021). Old location guide: where is the beach in the new M. Night Shyamalan movie?.
  21. Trivedi, Dhruv (July 23, 2021). Where Was Old Filmed?.
  22. 22.0 22.1 Tangcay, Jazz (July 24, 2021). M. Night Shyamalan's Daughter Follows in Filmmaking Footsteps as 'Old' Second Unit Director.
  23. Tangcay, Jazz (July 20, 2021). For New 'Old' Song, M. Night Shyamalan and Daughter Saleka Sought Inspiration in U2's 'With or Without You'.
  24. Rao, Mallika (July 23, 2021). The Mystery of M. Night Shyamalan.
  25. M. Night Shyamalan Talks 'Old' And Career (July 22, 2021).
  26. Davids, Brian (July 23, 2021). 'Old' and 'Pig' Star Alex Wolff on the Virtues of Nicolas Cage and M. Night Shyamalan.
  27. Tallerico, Brian (July 22, 2021). Old.
  28. Trevor Gureckis to Score M. Night Shyamalan's 'Old' (January 26, 2021).
  29. 'Old' Soundtrack Album Details (July 22, 2021).
  30. McClintock, Pamela (September 16, 2019). M. Night Shyamalan Sets His Next Two Movies at Universal for Release in 2021, 2023.
  31. McClintock, Pamela (April 7, 2020). Universal Bumps 'Nobody' to Winter, Delays M. Night Shyamalan's Untitled Film.
  32. D'Alessandro, Anthony (December 10, 2020). Universal's Bob Odenkirk Action Thriller 'Nobody' Now Going A Week Later.
  33. Universal Sets M. Night Shyamalan's Next Movie for July 2021 (June 23, 2020).
  34. D'Alessandro, Anthony (February 2, 2021). How Many Super Bowl Spots Are Hollywood Studios & Streamers Running This Year? Not That Many.
  35. Ferme, Antonio (February 7, 2021). M. Night Shyamalan's New Film 'Old' Releases First Trailer During Super Bowl.
  36. D'Alessandro, Anthony (February 7, 2021). 'Old' Trailer: M. Night Shyamalan's Upcoming Summer Thriller Unveiled – Watch Super Bowl Ad.
  37. Weiss, Josh (February 7, 2021). M. Night Shyamalan gets 'Old' in first trailer for his next mysterious genre movie.
  38. Ferme, Antonio (May 27, 2021). M. Night Shyamalan's 'Old' Trailer Brings Thrills and Chills.
  39. Weiss, Josh (May 27, 2021). Old: M. Night Shyamalan asks 'What's my age again?' in latest chilling trailer for his new film.
  40. Travis, Ben (July 7, 2021). Old: M Night Shyamalan On Swapping Big Budgets For Creative Freedom – Exclusive Image.
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  46. Domestic 2021 Weekend 30.
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  49. Multiple sources:
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  54. Template:Cite Rotten TomatoesTemplate:Cbignore
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  59. Novec, Jocelyn (July 22, 2021). Review: Crystal waters, soft sands, clunky dialogue in 'Old'.
  60. Hammond, Pete (July 22, 2021). 'Old' Review: M. Night Shyamalan's Latest Doesn't Age Well, But The Scenery's Nice.
  61. Roeper, Richard (July 22, 2021). 'Old': A beach speeds up aging in M. Night Shyamalan's latest letdown.
  62. Template:Cite magazine
  63. Travers, Peter (July 23, 2021). Review: 'Old' shows director M. Night Shyamalan at his best and worst.
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External links

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