Just as it takes a tough man to make a tender chicken, it takes a smart filmmaker to make a stupid movie, which I mean in the best possible way. Science-fiction films, once a cinematic counterpart to pulp fiction, are today often big-budget, overproduced spectacles that substitute grandiosity for imagination. M. Night Shyamalan’s new film, “Old” (which opens in theatres on Friday), is different. His frequent artistic pitfall is complication—the burdening of stories with extravagant yet undeveloped byways in order to endow them with ostensible significance and to stoke exaggerated effects. With “Old,” facing the constraints of filming during the pandemic—on a project that he’d nonetheless planned before it—Shyamalan has created a splendid throwback of a science-fiction thriller that develops a simple idea with stark vigor and conveys the straight-faced glee of realizing the straightforward logic of its enticing absurdity.
The movie, based on the graphic novel “Sandcastle