Early in his career, filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan delivered audiences multiple consecutive experiences that featured unexpected reveals in their final moments, leading him to earn a reputation that all of his narratives would feature such shocking twists and turns. The drawback to this structure is that audiences would head into any of his projects expecting the unexpected, resulting in some confusion or frustrations when a project would conclude without a game-changing reveal. For those wondering about whether his latest him, Old, has any surprising revelations, we’re here to break down how the narrative, including the ending, unfolds in the creepy concept.
WARNING: Major spoilers below for Old
The concept of Old features a group of people on vacation who find themselves on a remote beach, leading to the discovery of a corpse. Rapper “Mid-Sized Sedan” (Aaron Pierre) admits that it’s the body of a girl he went to this beach with who died the night prior, though Prisca (Vicky Krieps), based on her experience working at a museum, notes that the decay of the body looks as though the corpse had been there for years. This is just the beginning of the nightmare, as the young children at the beach mysteriously mature into teenagers and young adults in a matter of hours, while the adults begin to grow hard of hearing and sight, as one guest begins showing signs of dementia.
When attempting to leave the beach, the guests all end up blacking out, leaving them all stranded and aging for unknown reasons.
Despite the beach largely appearing deserted, there are artifacts that remain, such as watches and sunglasses, that appear to be the belongings of other victims. Upon the discovery of a journal, it is detailed that the beach and the cliffs surrounding it have a specific mineral makeup that results in the extreme expedition of the aging process. With the film focusing more on the effects of this process, this largely becomes the only explanation for the aging.
As far as how these individuals ended up here, the final scenes of the film explain how the resort which these vacationers visited was run by a pharmaceutical company that specifically targeted every guest, presenting them with ads and offers on the internet, because everyone who is sent to the beach is suffering some sort of incurable illness, whether that be a tumor or epilepsy. Due to the specific makeup of the minerals on this beach and the ways in which it speeds up the aging process, this allows the pharmaceutical company to administer medications (disguised as elaborate cocktails) to these terminal patients to more quickly test concoctions that would otherwise take years or decades to determine the effectiveness of. While this reveals that the resort is the true villain of the entire ordeal, their malicious methods are an attempt to more effectively treat terminal cases.
Surely some audiences would argue that Shyamalan has delivered yet another twist, though with virtually every thriller ever made building towards a reveal in its conclusion, the arc of Old doesn’t feel like his previous efforts, with the effectiveness of the overall narrative also sure to ignite diverse reactions.
Old is in theaters now.