Amidst the bizarre combination of the Super Bowl’s usual pageantry and the guarded apprehension of its COVID-era iteration, last night’s broadcast of the biggest night in American football also afforded a first look at a possible movie highlight of our hopefully vaccinated summer. M Night Shyamalan has returned to self-contained suspense filmmaking following an interlude in the connected universe of franchise, and he appears to be in full form.
Super Bowl viewers caught the first trailer for his upcoming film Old, a brief spot that nonetheless conveys a disturbing and mysterious premise. One family’s day-trip to the beach is going to turn into a spiral of terror, and not just because Dad keeps threatening to turn this car around and come back there.
In Shyamalan’s latest, parents Gael García Bernal and Vicky Krieps bring their apple-cheeked youngsters for a getaway on a secluded section of shoreline, only to find that they’ve turned into teenagers (Alex Wolff and Eliza Scanlen) after a matter of hours. Everyone in the area seems to be ageing rapidly, resulting in frightful body horror for some; the uncomprehending, petrified daughter instantaneously becomes pregnant and ready to pop without any warning.
As is often the case with Shyamalan’s work, something’s afoot that will most likely be revealed in the third act with a great cinematic flourish, but what? Their lives, collapsed to the space of a day… Could it be that this family may actually be mayflies under the impression that they’re humans? This is but one guess.
One other note: Universal’s ad concludes with the bold declaration of “Only in theaters this summer,” famous last words uttered by many a prospective blockbuster over the past year. God willing, enough of the populace will have been vaccinated by then to make moviegoing a viable public leisure activity again, but the filmography of M Night Shyamalan has taught us nothing if not that our words can often hold a grim, ironic foreboding of which we’re totally unaware.
Old is set for release in the US and UK on 23 July.
Published 8 Feb 2021
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