My friend Steve has a new neighbor downstairs. She threw a loud party right after moving in. Apartment walls are thin in New York City. It was like being trapped in an echo chamber. Of course, he complained. She showed up the next day with an apology and a gift. How could he not forgive her … for it turned out she was the daughter of M. Night Shyamalan.
You know, the filmmaker who spooked us out with the dead guy who didn’t know he was dead in “The Sixth Sense,” introduced us to aliens in “Signs,” fished up a mermaid in “Lady in the Water,” even conjured up the devil in “Devil.” He not only directed them, he wrote them too — those frightening images jumping right out of his fetid mind.
You don’t dare tick off a guy like that.
Nor his daughter.
I suggested to Steve that he be very nice to his new neighbor.
Also, I recommended he watch “Servant,” M. Night’s Apple TV+ series about a cult and a dead baby (or is it?). It will give you the willies, I promised.
Hmm, seems Steve is not looking for the willies. I was just trying to be helpful.
M. Night Shyamalan is known for his contemporary thrillers with supernatural plots and twisty endings.
You can see why I had to catch his latest film, “Old” — opening in theaters this week.
Another nail-biter. With this one, you’d think he’s been cribbing notes from Stephen King.
The plot: A family on a tropical vacation discovers that the secluded beach they are relaxing on for a few hours is somehow causing them to age rapidly, reducing their entire lives into a single day.
This what’s-going-on-here story is set in motion when one of the kids discovers a dead body that deteriorates at a super-rapid rate. And next thing you know, those cute tykes Trent and Maddox are aging faster than time-lapse photography.
Casting was tricky.
Gael Garcia Bernal (“Mozart in the Jungle”) and Vicky Krieps (“Phantom Thread”) play dad and mom. But Trent had to be played by Noah River, Luca Faustino Rodriguez, Alex Wolff and Emun Elliott — aging from 6 to adult. Maddox was covered by Alexa Swinton, Thomasin McKenzie and Embeth Davidtz — aging from 11 to adult.
“It’s only a matter of time,” taunts the movie’s tagline.
M. Night Shyamalan adapted “Old” is from a graphic novel called “Sandcastle.”
When asked why he picked this as the basis of his new movie, he said, “The book gave me the opportunity to work through a lot of anxieties I had around death and aging, things like my parents getting older.”
He went on to say, “The subject matter of the film, in which a group of people find themselves trapped on an isolated beach, dealing with a deadly phenomenon, mirrored the experience of being in lockdown, and the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic.”
Fortunately, none of the cast or crew got sick while filming in the Dominican Republic, where he found a nice beach. This is the first film he’s ever made outside Greater Philadelphia.
“It was strange,” M. Night said. “We were making a film that had nothing to do with the pandemic, but at the same time it was absolutely about this fear and uncertainty we were all feeling. This fear of infection. It made us think very deeply about death, about survival, and about being in lockdown. The idea of being stuck in a situation and not being able to leave.”
Stuck on a beach? Better pack extra suntan lotion.