There’s something about a movie where it all takes place in one confined area. Movies like The Thing, The Hateful Eight, Rope, or 12 Angry Men come to mind and are aided by their settings. Old Man takes place in a cabin in the middle of a dense forest, far away from society. Stephen Lang plays Old Man, someone who has cut himself off from society entirely and lives in the wilderness with his dog. When he wakes up one morning, his dog, Rascal, has run away for seemingly the 100th time. A knock at the door from a lost hiker, Joe, turns his normal routine around and grows the film into something much darker.
It comes from director Lucky McKee and writer Joel Veach. The film is mostly a paint-by-numbers affair when it comes to the story. It has some nice twists and turns, but the overall reveal at the end of the film is somewhat predictable after a bit. However, what really drives Old Man is the performances by Lang and his co-star Marc Senter. They both have to carry the film for an hour and a half runtime. It’s on the backs of their performances that Old Man becomes something much stronger.
In addition to Senter and Lang, it also features Patch Darragh and Liana Wright-Mark. They’re not in the film for very long, but Darragh’s performance is a big part of the film. His almost grotesque portrayal of the Bible Salesman makes a lot more sense after the twist.
Dreamy And Tense
Old Man has this eerie quality throughout the film. It’s dreamy and almost surreal. The entire film meanders throughout this story of Joe and the Old Man trying to do a dance of getting enough involved with one another, but still keeping up a guard. Old Man holds a gun to Joe, Joe tries to escape, Old Man opens up, Joe tries to convince him to let him leave, rinse, and repeat. However, that repeating cycle gives us more and more information about Old Man as we go. Narratively, it’s better than just leaving us wondering too much about why he’s out in these woods, and why he’s so hostile. Once the twist comes, it all makes sense.
Lang plays Old Man with bravado and the sort of machismo of many males these days. Times were harder back then, men should be men, etc. Joe is just an everyman, lost in the woods that his grandfather seemingly told him not to go wandering around in as a kid. Lang goes from sympathetic back to volatile on a dime. It’s a force of a performance from him, that is somewhat reminiscent of his performance in Don’t Breathe.
Where Old Man suffers is in the third act when everything is revealed. The performances up to that point are top-notch, with Lang really dialing it up. However, the reveal is predictable, which kind of makes everything fall flat. It also shifts to this almost “Red Room” from Twin Peaks vibe, that clashes with the first two acts.
The Reasons To Watch Old Man
- Stephen Lang’s performance as Old Man.
- Marc Senter’s performance as Joe.
- The setting of the first two acts of the film.
- Beautifully shot sequences and long takes.
- For fans of movies that take place in the same isolated setting.
Through it all, Old Man is well worth a watch still. For Lang’s performance alone, you’ll get a kick out of the film. The twist and turns might resonate more with you than they did for me. All of these add up to a fine movie for a dark October night that’ll still thrill you, even if you see the twist coming.
Old Man releases on October 14th.
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