Old is just the opposite of Benjamin Button lived his life from old too young. Here everyone who reaches a specific beach experiences a rapid aging process. It’s somewhat less obvious in the adults, but the kids move from childhood to middle life over the time of one day.
As usual M. Night Shyamalan pulls us along for the twisted ride in a place we re not sure exists. At times it all appears to be a dream or something like West World where the atmosphere is plotted and carefully controlled by non human personal.
Shyamalan carries the idea from a book called “Sandcastle” by Pierre Oscar Levy and Frederick Peeters in a film that will intrigue and for some irritate.
The large cast spend most of the film time on a secluded beach filmed in the Dominican Republic, which is recommended by the resort manager (Gustaf Hammarsten). The manager states only certain guests are allowed to enter the beach and the characters in this script are all special. Each group appears to have two lead characters who are presented with a special cocktail as they arrive, all part of the large plot they will be involved in.
Not only each character must deal with the aging when reaching what looks like a perfect beach for a tropical vacation they quickly learn that leaving the beach is blocked by some unknown force.
The hook is watching each character age and change over the very short time. A young girl who has yet to reach preadolescents becomes pregnant and delivers a child early the second morning. The grandmother ages beyond her life span and passes on quickly.
When we learn each character has an illness we also learn that some are physical (Prisca played by Vicky Krieps) has a tumor which becomes the size of a pumpkin over a few hours on the beach. But Charles played by Rufus Sewell is a doctor and he removes the mass and is surprised to find the wound is healed within minutes. Swell who was the lead actor in the film Dark City where he found himself dealing with nightly changes out of his control.
Each character has an interesting occupation, Jarin (Ken Leung) is a nurse and his wife Patricia is a social worker who has seizures on a regular basis. So some good happens and that is part of the hidden plot. But mostly the attention which dominates the film is the apparent calculated death of each character through failed attempts to escape, their physical weakness and even murder of some by one of the characters.
Old is worth some attention, just sorting the characters and the overriding plot require careful attention of the how and why strange things happen. Shyamalan gives us an interesting answer which is a stretch, but then if it was not unreal it would not be Shyamalan.