The fountain of aging

There is something about aging 50 years in a day that is intriguing. The latest thriller from M. Night Shyamalan, who has made a career out of thrillers, dabbles in interesting themes and Old (2021) is no exception.

In some places, death features a lot. The Bible often alludes to dying and death. In other places, death is not as common.

Old is probably original in the marketplace of film in that it’s main theme is death. And it is coming quicker than you’d expect.

Perhaps Old will help us face mortality. Old deals with the process of aging, but what happens if you must face aging and inevitable death when least expecting it?

I anticipated the film would say something about dying. I wondered what Shyamalan was trying to say about encroaching death and how does facing death change things. Probably hoping optimistically for something meaningful.

To me, facing death does matter, and I believe I shouldn’t put off facing it. Even if I have faced it, what Old is saying about death would be interesting.

On the surface of things, Old may deal with the reality of dying. How a couple, for instance, learn to appreciate one another in their older age. This despite an impending separation.

If you are holed up on a beach surrounded by granite rocks all around, and suddenly you grow older at the rate of years in a day, what else could there be but to get closer to one another? But is it enough? What if one dies? What is the other left with?

Rufus Sewel in Old faces rapid death.

From a Christian perspective, consolation is inevitably and not begrudgingly, Jesus. Jesus is there for the Christian.

On its own terms I think Old does not deal with the theme of coming to terms with dying that is obvious.

Old may superficially handle the theme, like Final Destination, in that someone is trying to cheat death. Is there something more theological, even Christian, hidden behind the obvious? Is Old saying there is something after death that we should face? I don’t know. But there is a twist if not a theology of death.

The film is a bit of a playground for Shyamalan to explore his latest ideas. This one starts at a resort for the holidays, winds up on a deadly beach with the occasional stabbing and profanity, even a rapid pregnancy, and the controlled panic of innocent decent and vulnerable people, while no one knows why rapidly increased aging is happening to them (but was obvious to the audience) while seeking a way out of this terrifying horror. And then one by one comes the Grim Reaper…

For all that, Old is, on the surface of things, preposterous, and some of the dialogue completely ill judged, if not unintentionally funny. Not the mind trip Shyamalan was probably hoping for, but not much food for thought either. Like a bad holiday Old falls short.

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