Old ★★★½

The release of an M. Night Shyamalan film always generates lots of anticipation. People have deep-seated opinions about this man. You either love him or you think he's an over-hyped, pompous, self-important man with "big ideas". I am in the former camp. I root for the man and always want to see the best in him. He has much talent.

His strengths are his intriguing setup, ensemble casts made of talent actors, and compelling storytelling. He can build atmosphere and tension quite easily. The problem is that often there isn't much payoff.

Old follows true to form. A family on vacation is convinced by the resort manager to visit a "secret beach." Only the secret is shared with multiple parties, all of whom converge there the next day. As they explore and enjoy the setting, they realize that they can't leave and that time works differently here. As the group tries to solve the mystery of how to leave, the kids age rapidly.

What do they all have in common? And why did the director choose them for this "exclusive" nightmarish day trip? Resolving these questions could offer the solution to salvation.

The plot plays like a combination of a locked room mystery and a body horror. A big reveal comes at the end, but when all is said and done, the point of it all seems hazy and something like a greeting card message.

M. Knight is the king of setups but doesn't always know how to deliver the final punch. Still, the vision he creates is relenting and horrific.

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