Aaron Murray’s review published on Letterboxd:
I'm terrified of growing old.
It's something that for years I've thrown aside. I saw it as a natural part of life and eventually my time would come and I'd be at peace with that. Hell, a part of me still is. That said, the day I turned 20 was when that changed for me. Realising you've been on this planet for as long as that time is as scary as it is downright unbelievable sometimes.
What scares me most about aging I think is the slow decay of your body. You won't notice it straight away but it's ironic how as much as we worry about dying from something like plane crashes or drowning, we don't realise that the biggest killer of all is ourselves. I don't mean to sound so morbid either. Our bodies are absolute powerhouses and they're just as much the thing that keeps us alive than the reverse.
With the internet, I believe we've slowly become more logic driven than ever. So much information is at our fingertips to the point where even the most unsolvable things can likely be solved with a quick Google search or Tiktok video. The younger generation has been brought up in this digital age for better or worse and we're seeing them become smarter and perhaps being more aware of the world around them than ever. Children understand the concept of death and aging quicker and quicker from the moment they're born.
The concept that Old brings to the table was one that fascinated me from the minimal marketing footage I saw. Multiple groups of people take a vacation and find themselves in a secluded beach. As they spend time there, they find themselves growing increasingly older in a matter of hours and for the older people a matter of minutes. It's like something straight out of The Twilight Zone with a concept that drives itself right to the mind.
Growing older at first seems like a journey that will take days to get to it's destination. Yet as we go by year after year, we find ourselves closer & closer to that destination. The years go by faster and before you know it, you're beginning to notice grey hairs or your body not being able to take on as much as it once could. When you're faced with the reality of facing that existential crisis in a matter of 24 hours, logic & explanations you try to give to yourself are thrown out the window.
In the buildup to watching this, I saw many people complain about the dialogue in the film. To be honest, I completely get it. Some of the dialogue is unnatural and downright cold in its execution. The characters in this film are almost mechanical by nature. The children notice the cracking façade of their parents and question the instructions they are given. When the events of the film kick off and we see the rapid aging of the characters, one by one we see the gears beginning to turn. Did the children eat something that gave them a bad reaction? Did they contract a virus? All of these reasons are given by people who mostly work in scientific or logic based jobs. Numbers and explainations are as natural to them as walking & talking. As they crack and the fear rushes in, the explainations become increasingly more fantastical and yet somehow completely in line with how the characters are trying to cope.
When Old focuses on this sense of dread for it's characters, it's where it truly shines. The dialogue is just offbeat enough to make you feel uncomfortable and even laugh in some scenes. I personally think a lot of that was completely intentional especially when you consider how finely tuned every other aspect of the film is. Simply put, this might be one of M Night's best films on a technical level. Each zoom in & zoom out that we see only adds to the utter chills that went through my spine in some scenes. The camera moves around so gracefully and every shot felt completely controlled in its chaos. The use of empty space and sneaking around the faces of the characters almost as if it's cowering away in fear just feels so well thought out and exactly in M Night's playing field.
Old is M Night's bold take on existentialism. It's a thriller that takes in all the dread you come to find in the genre spliced in with the fear of our finite time on this earth. He finds the beauty in that but the fear still plays a very large hand in the film's overall execution. I completely get why this has such a mixed reaction. Parts of it don't work for me either but at the same time, this is a M Night film through and through that is completely unafraid to take the swings that it does. Sure, there's a few misses here & there but those hits when they happen are absolutely fantastic.