SUBWAY Night Shyamalan is enjoying a serious comeback with his best film since The Sixth Sense – a high-concept, dazed horror about being trapped on a seemingly idyllic private beach, where time fatally speeds up. Anyone who doesn’t like overheated beach vacations will probably already know the feeling of supernaturally fast aging, horror, and panic that wrecks the face. And indeed, these are the feelings I’ve often had when watching some of Shyamalan’s recent films.
This is different. Old is a fascinatingly bizarre piece of old-fashioned entertainment: adapted by Shyamalan from the graphic novel Sandcastle, by Pierre Oscar Lévy and Frederik Peeters; it fits exactly with Shyamalan’s talent for a particular kind of daring and witty goofiness. But unlike his mysteries The Village or The Happening, where Shyamalan seemed to lose control of the wheel midway through (or sooner), the fun and absurd yet spooky premise holds up to the finish line. Old is a bit like Alex Garland’s The Beach, but with a spooky Twilight Zone twist and a cast Agatha Christie could have imagined. Above all, I found myself thinking that this could come from the original Star Trek series, and that at any moment, William Shatner could appear among the beach dwellers, terrified and in disrepair, phaser ready. Yet sadly for them, these existence-stricken vacationers are alone.
Gael García Bernal and Vicky Krieps play Guy and Prisca, a married couple stressed out with concerns they hide from their children, six-year-old Trent (Nolan River) and 11-year-old Maddox (Alexa Swinton). They desperately need a vacation and are relieved to arrive at the miraculously affordable luxury beach resort they found online, where they are told that the hotel resort driver (played in a cameo by Shyamalan himself) may lead them to a super secret. Paradise beach on the other side of the island, only revealed to special guests. The beach is truly beautiful, but Guy and Prisca are baffled to discover that other guests have discovered the secret: super-rich rap star Mid-Sized Sedan (Aaron Pierre), irritable surgeon Charles (Rufus Sewell), and his trophy wife. Chrystal (Abbey Lee), her elderly mother Agnes (Kathleen Chalfant) and their little daughter Kara (Kyle Bailey). There is also a nurse, Jarin (Ken Leung) and her partner Patricia (Nikki Amuka-Bird) who suffer from epileptic seizures.
In the beginning, everything is glorious. But then there are the sinister events. They can’t seem to get off the beach. And physically strange things are happening. Agnes, already frail, discovers that her condition suddenly worsens; wounds heal at an extraordinary rate. Crow’s feet appear on faces. Children complain that their bathing suits are becoming more tight and uncomfortable. And the gestures of one of the guests become more than silly. Somehow these people have found themselves on the beach at the end of the world. Perhaps these privileged wealthy consumers thought that this special place of wonder in the developing world would allow time to stand still for them, while forgetting their worries.
But perhaps it is not really that their life expectancy has been reduced to that of a short-lived. It is that a great human truth has been revealed to them: they were always ephemeral. Now, in this time-lapse nightmare, they can see what has been hidden from them: mortality. And with the arrival of death at nightfall … everyone had better decide what they think about the people they love. Unless, that is, they can find a way to get off the beach.
The elements of stupidity and deadly seriousness are very well balanced and although I was not absolutely sure of the ending, which perhaps has too neat a bun tied up, this is very nice and I was on the edge of my seat without knowing it. whether to shudder or laugh, although I did both. I loved the way the children grew up while being trapped in the bewilderment and resentment of a child. Time passed quickly as I looked at him.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism