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Here's What The Critics Are Saying About M. Night Shyamalan's Old

For over 20 years, M. Night Shyamalan has made gripping thrillers about everything from aliens to menacing comic book characters, and the films are notorious for their shocking twist endings. His latest film, "Old," has a terrifyingly simple premise: rapidly aging and having to accept your own death much more quickly than you anticipated. The story begins as soon-to-be-estranged couple Guy (Gael García Bernal) and Prisca (Vicky Krieps) go on a tropical vacation with their two young children, and are invited to relax with other tourists on a gorgeous, isolated beach.

However, things turn nightmarish when they discover that the beach causes people to rapidly age, and at this rate, they'll all be dead by the following day. Based on the French graphic novel "Sandcastle," the setup alone makes for one of Shyamalan's most ambitious projects since "The Village" and "Signs." How are critics responding to it? We compiled several reviews to get an idea of what everyone thinks of "Old."

Critics are mixed on "Old"

So far, Shyamalan's latest film has been met with mixed reception from critics. Some were in favor of its pulpy horror, such as Vanity Fair critic Jordan Hoffman, who calls it "very good" in his review, and Los Angeles Times critic Justin Chang, who notes that "'Old' grabs you right away, starts losing you at the half-hour mark, pulls you back in with some agreeably bonkers set-pieces, drags you through a tedious closing stretch, and finally leaves you in an oddly charitable mood." The Atlantic writer David Sims believes this is "[Shyamalan's] most ambitious work in years, wrapped in the delightful, tawdry packaging of a pulpy thriller."

However, other critics lost patience with it. "['Old' has] a catchy hook along with some elegant filmmaking gambits," writes Variety's Owen Gleiberman, "but instead of developing his premise in an insidious and powerful way, the writer-director just keeps throwing a lot at you." IndieWire writer David Ehrlich echoes these statements, saying that "Old" is "a silly, well-acted piece of schlock that offers a decent time at the movies instead of the awful one it promised us."

The movie has a characterization problem

For years, one of the main criticisms of Shyamalan's work is that his characters feel wooden, meant to drive the plot rather than seem like actual people. Even in positive reviews of "Old," this has remained a sticking point despite the film's star-studded, capable cast. "The filmmaker's diminishing capacity for recognizing naturalistic human behavior once again presents a problem when the times come for audiences to relate to, much less care about, characters put through the paces of another elevator pitch that he never develops into a compelling story," The Wrap critic Todd Gilchrist writes, adding, "The bigger problem with 'Old' is that its characters feel like they've been engineered by some kind of algorithm in a screenwriting program."

Ehrlich, in the same review from IndieWire, adds, "All of Shyamalan's characters talk as if they've been abducted by aliens, a feeling that's only enhanced by this film's clinical framing and zoological sense of remove."

Some appreciated the aging metaphor, while others found it flimsy

In terms of its basic premise, "Old" is much more relatable to the average viewer: Who hasn't worried about aging, or missing important moments in your loved ones' lives because time is going by too fast? Some critics found these themes impactful, such as The A.V. Club writer A.A. Dowd, who notes that "['Old'] proves this wizardry multiplex craftsman knows a thing or two about the human condition." Sims adds that "Shyamalan riddles his characters with insecurities and doubts about their place in the world, then hits the fast-forward button on their lives, giving them minutes to realize big emotional truths."

Still, others wished these themes were more fully explored. According to The Hollywood Reporter's John Defore, "'Old' can't escape the goofiness of its premise long enough to put its more poetic possibilities across more successfully."

You can make your mind up about Shyamalan's latest thriller yourself by seeing it when it arrives in theaters on Friday, July 23.