The writer-director-producer’s career began with “The Sixth Sense” and “Unbreakable” to such an impressive degree that early fans of his work would have expected much more, as it was “The Village” and “Lady in the Water.”
A family of four meet on campus, whose lead parents, played by Gael García Bernal and Vicky Cripps (“Phantom Thread”), arrive at a luxurious resort (the film was shot in the Dominican Republic), which Wanted to give a good show to his little kids. time despite the apparent tension in their marriage.
In search of activities, they are guided by the hotel manager to a private, secluded beach, which he describes as an “experience of a lifetime.” Once there, however – with the two other families – strange things start to happen, as everyone gets older faster, a condition that is immediately noticeable in, but not limited to, children.
What is the reason, and is there a way? For starters, there’s no cellphone reception, and the guide (Shyamalan, in one of his regular cameos) drops them and leaves.
Inspired by a graphic novel called “Sandcastle,” the macabre premise is definitely in the director’s wheelhouse. But once the set-up is established, the escalating situations become increasingly scholarly, sometimes resembling a bad 1970s horror film, and these hastily introduced characters take heart. Attempts to inject feel particularly compelling.
Those shortcomings left the cast — which also includes Rufus Sewell, Ken Leung, Alex Wolfe and Nikki Amuka-Bird — stranded in more ways than one. And while there’s a fair amount of clarity in the resolution, unlike Shyamalan’s early victories, the finish (who lives short on it) doesn’t deliver the kind of wall that could use such an exercise.
As tempting as it may be to say that Shyamalan’s appeal is not good, “Split” casts doubt on that argument. While the genre that “Old” represents has an encouraging track record, to the extent that it’s getting some enthusiasm to bring people back to theaters, it would be nice to reward them with a more satisfying film than this.
“Old” premieres in US theaters on July 23. It has got PG-13 rating.