Ever since M Night Shyamalan made The Sixth Sense, he has been trying (and failing) to achieve similar success. There were up’s and down’s with his films but many were panned by critics and fans alike, tarnishing his name to some extent. Recently he managed to redeem himself somewhat with a string of respectable and well liked projects like “Split”, “Glass” and the TV series “Servant”. He appeared to have found his mojo back in these recent ventures and it was hence with heightened anticipation that I had when I read about his new film OLD. It has a mysterious plot about a group of people vacationing in a private beach that somehow has the effect of making them age rapidly. This is the stuff that M Night Shyamalan loves doing and it is no surprise to see him credited for writing the story as well.
OLD starts off innocently enough with the introduction of a couple of vacationing families to a beach resort. They all meet up again in a secluded beach which was recommended by the resort manager but soon find themselves trapped in a twilight zone-ish situation. The dialogue was generally interesting and comes across naturally while offering information on the various characters. As the story progressed, we find ourselves getting more and more involved which makes for an interesting watch as we begin to discover the extent of the horror along with the guests and what stakes lie ahead. M Night Shyamalan is in his element here with the story telling and demonstrates his unique directorial style. He uses a lot of close ups on his characters Hitchcockian style which is quite involving. Often he lets his camera drift away from the scene before it could end, to reveal what is happening in the surroundings. This is akin to us behaving sometimes when our attention and eyes tend to drift away from the centre of a particular situation when we are not the dominant players.
As the story moved along and time becomes an essence in the survival of the unfortunate people, it becomes increasingly apparent that much of the movie’s success would depend on how it concludes. After all, an unsatisfactory ending would render us feeling like we have wasted our time invested in the tall tale, but a clever ending would elevate the movie to a much higher level of appreciation. One of M Night Shyamalan’s trade mark is to have an unexpected twist at the end and we are all geared for this to be reveal in the final act.
Alas, for me, the conclusion was a little frustrating for me. In fact much of this was hinted at in the preceding and hence did not come across as being totally unexpected although the details were still a revelation. What irked me was that the conclusion failed to provide answers to what I would consider a major plot line and this left me feeling a bit unsatisfied with the movie. I wanted to like this a lot and I wanted this to be Shyamalan’s new big hit, but its less than satisfying ending is going to let a lot of people down. For me, this was great until the final act.