M. Night Shyamalan Teases New Film “Old” at Tribeca
“No one has seen anything like it.”
This is what M. Night Shyamalan had to say about his new feature film, Old, at a panel at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival. Old originally began its life as a graphic novel, titled “Sandcastle,” by Pierre Oscar Levy and artist Frederick Peeters, but Shyamalan’s adaptation is “inspired by” rather than a straight page to script. The graphic novel is described as an existential horror story, which is obviously right in Shyamalan’s wheelhouse. The premise is simple—Old tracks a family on a holiday who discover, to their horror, that the gorgeous beach they’re relaxing on is aging them, rapidly, so that their entire lives will be over in a single day.
Shyamalan was vague at the Tribeca panel (of course), not wanting to spill any of his beloved secrets. But The Hollywood Reporter does detail some of those vague comments, such as Shyamalan saying the film is “inappropriate” and “subversive” in his conversation with one of the film’s stars, Alex Wolff (Hereditary). Yet he did deliver this intriguing callback to an earlier film when discussing how he was handling Old‘s ending. “I’m deciding on the minor note; how to end on a minor note,” Shyamalan said, directly calling out his 2000 film Unbreakable and Samuel L. Jackson’s character Elijah Price. “Unbreakable ends on a kind of a dip, right? He goes to the dark note, that minor note at the end. The guy you thought was the best friend is the villain. … The minor note sticks to you forever.”
Shyamalan said Old is one of his most personal films, along with Unbreakable and Lady in the Water. The film’s focus on aging has a special resonance with him. “My father’s very old right now. He has dementia. He comes and goes,” Shyamalan said. “And the kids are now directing and singing concerts and, you know, when did this happen? So I made a movie about that feeling.”
Filming Old during a pandemic was a challenge. Shyamalan paid for everyone to stay at the same hotel in the Dominican Republic, including all the people who worked there, and said they didn’t have a single positive case of Covid-19. They did get smashed by hurricane season, however, and their sets needed to be rebuilt. Another issue; the beach where they were filming got eroded away by the hurricane. They ended up shooting on a part of the beach that had come back.
“We got very lucky. By day one, part of the beach came back, so we shot on that side and then we became very versed with nature, like the tides and storms out 100 miles away and how many times the water comes up per day,” Shyamalan said. “Honestly, we were allowed to be on that beach. That was Mother Nature allowing us to be there. We had 40, I don’t know, 40 days where we needed good weather—we got 40 days of good weather.”
We’ll see the fruits of their labor soon—Old is due in theaters on July 23. The cast is terrific. Joining Wolff are Gael García Bernal (Mozart in the Jungle), Vicky Krieps (Phantom Thread), Rufus Sewell (The Man in the High Castle), Ken Leung (Star Wars: Episode VII—The Force Awakens), Nikki Amuka-Bird (Jupiter Ascending), Abbey Lee (Lovecraft Country), Embeth Davidtz (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Eliza Scanlen (Little Women), and Thomasin McKenzie (Jojo Rabbit).
Before the panel ended, Wolff told the crowd, “Get ready.”
Check out the official trailer below.
Here’s the official synopsis for Old:
This summer, visionary filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan unveils a chilling, mysterious new thriller about a family on a tropical holiday who discover that the secluded beach where they are relaxing for a few hours is somehow causing them to age rapidly … reducing their entire lives into a single day.
Featured image: (from left) Prisca (Vicky Krieps), Maddox (Thomasin McKenzie), Guy (Gael García Bernal) and Trent (Luca Faustino Rodriguez) in Old, written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Photo Credit: Phobymo/Universal Pictures. © 2021 Universal Studios.