M. Night Shyamalan is a fascinating director. His movies explore themes of loss, love, creativity, and what would happen if trees hated us. He can be hit or miss, but he holds a little spot in my heart. The 2021 Tribeca Film Festival is well underway, and recently Shyamalan sat down for a panel to discuss his new film Old.
Old is an adaptation of Frederik Peeters and Pierre Oscar Levy’s graphic novel Sandcastle. Old follows a family on a tropical holiday, who discover that the secluded beach where they’re relaxing for a few hours is somehow causing them to age rapidly, reducing their entire lives into a single day.
Shyamalan, as always, was vague about his film. “No one has ever seen anything like it in it’s tone and the way it’s just, I mean, it’s like nothing else.” He would go on to call the film “inappropriate” and “subversive” during his hour-long panel. Old is set for release July 23rd. Shymalan also revealed that he hasn’t finished the film yet.
“I’m deciding on the minor note; how to end on a minor note. 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.”
I wonder if Syamalan will go back to the well and give the movie a twist. I’ve long argued that Shyamalan doesn’t do “twists” but “reveals”. That’s a completely different argument for a completely different day. Shyamalan tied his work on Old to his real life. “My father’s very old right now. He has dementia. He comes and goes. And the kids are now directing and singing concerts and, you know, when did this happen? So I made a movie about that feeling.”
Making a movie is hard. It’s even harder during an unprecedented global pandemic. He explained that he tried something that hadn’t been done in covid-era filmmaking. “We’re all gonna stay in this hotel. I’m gonna pay for everybody – the cleaning ladies, the caterers, everyone, the reception person, the person parking our cars, everybody staying us – and if they commit to these 20 weeks, I’ll cover everything and we just go from the hotel to the beach, back and forth, every day.”
It must have worked because Shyamalan has touted 0 cases of covid during his shoot. The real problem he ran into – besides being trapped in a hotel for 10 weeks – was the weather. Filming in the Dominican Republic put the shoot at risk for hurricanes. “I took the risk. We took the risk. And, of course, there was a hurricane, and it just took the sets and destroyed them.” Not to be deterred, the crew rebuilt the sets.
“The beach had been eroded away. There was no beach for our beach movie. We got very lucky. Byt 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.”
On the last day of shooting, the crew all took part in a ceremony to thank nature for their relatively easy time shooting. Alex Wolff, who stars in Old, was on hand with Shyamalan for the panel. He had this to say about Old: “Get ready”.
Old is out July 23rd. Are you excited? How do you feel about Shyamalan? Does he do twists or reveals? I’d love for you to join the conversation in the comments. We’re also on Instagram and Twitter @DreadCentral. I’m Jans. I write news. You can come argue with me about twists on Twitter @HorrorPlayed.