Old People Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
What started as a riveting, eerie premise with a message, quickly turned into a dull, nonsensical horror flick, with generic techniques & violence for shock value.
Director: Andy Fetscher
Cast: Melika Foroutan, Bianca Nawrath, Otto Emil Koch, Gerhard Bös, Paul Faßnacht, Stephan Luca, Daniela Galbo, Maxine Kazis & Richard Manualpillai.
Run Time: 101 min.
US Release: 07 October 2022 (Netflix)
UK Release: 07 October 2022 (Netflix)
German Release: 07 October 2022 (Netflix)
While I’m not generally a big fan of German cinema, due to it mostly looking cheap on screen, there are the occasional surprises in theatres or on TV. When Netflix released the trailer for this German production, I was intrigued for two reasons: First, the streaming service sets standards in cinematographical quality. Second, I was a fan of Andy Fetscher’s Urban Explorer from 2011. A Horror movie that surprised with its vicious, graphic violence. The question is… is this new Netflix release worth a watch?
Ella is travelling back to her home town, with her two kids Laura and Noah, for her sister's wedding. Afraid to run into her ex-husband, she offers to pick up their father from the nearby retirement home. Little does she know that she soon will need to defend her family, against blood-seeking pensioners.
Fetscher’s script is an odd mix of good ideas clashing with overused clichés, making for an infuriatingly disappointing experience! The story starts strong, with a disturbing prologue that ends in a voice-over, reciting a pending conflict between generations. The topic chosen by Fetscher to build his shocker on is no coincidence, as it is a current theme that is under discussion in Germany. Due to the lack of staff in retirement homes plus similar institutions, the generations 65+ are pretty much left fending for themselves!
Added to the social-political issue is a pagan belief, about an avenging spirit possessing the elderly if not properly taken care of, and an interesting premise starts taking shape. The problem, however, is that the director does nothing with that concept. After a good enough build-up of tension throughout the first act, in which that subject is being discussed superficially, we finally get to see the first kill in all its brutality. Sadly, the story quickly divulges to be nothing else but a zombie-like feature, in which the elderly moan, groan in a catatonic state, ripping through younger people, without ever giving an explicit reason.
The biggest catch, though, is its runtime! For the short contained plot that is being told, an eighty-minute-long runtime would have sufficed, as the narrative is riddled with pacing issues that kill off suspense, with the storytelling constantly disrupted by unneeded conversations. The ending is also baffling, as the miracle of music is used in a laughably bad way.
This brings me to the worst aspect of the screenplay, being definitely the dialogues that sound wooden and monotonous. Filled with boring banalities, one simply loses interest in the gibberish given by the characters.
Melika Foroutan gave a solid performance as Ella, a mother plagued by guilt for leaving her husband and taking her children with her to Berlin, just like leaving her father during the middle of a quarrel between both. She might seem fragile at first but once danger arises, she becomes a lioness to protect her family.
Bianca Nawrath as Laura, Ella’s teenage daughter, performed mostly alright. She did not always reach her potential, while the character was written as pretty dumb at times. Nevertheless, I did enjoy her rendition for most of the runtime.
Most of the elderly actors gave brilliant performances, yet the way they were portrayed was nearly comical, as it suggests that the infestation of rage gave them supernatural powers. Gerhard Bös, who plays the lead antagonist, gave one of the creepiest renditions of an old person I have ever seen. There is a moment when he shortly talks, though it would have been more effective if he would have stayed numb.
Paul Faßnacht portrays Ella’s plus Sana’s father Aike, who without Ella’s knowledge was put into a retiree home. Faßnacht, like his colleague Bös, gave a strong rendition without much dialogue, bordering on unease. You never know if he is going to crack any minute.
Not really a main character, though I still want to talk about the performance of Anna Unterberger nonetheless. She plays Kim, a nurse who is Lukas’ new girlfriend, giving one of the most cringy and over-the-top performances I have seen in a long time! Her character is truly far-fetched, bordering on comical!
The cinematography, on the other hand, was quite entrancing! Using a blend of steady cams intertwined with a lot of handheld footage, it made for quite an engaging viewing event. The lighting was superb, capturing the floating dust, as well as pollen, from the nearly abandoned town. The colour-grading employed is a pretty standard sepia-like filter during daylight sequences, setting up a post-apocalyptic atmosphere. The tint changes to blue, during night scenes. The abnormal amount of quick cuts, however, was rather distracting.
Effects used are mostly well-crafted practical ones, especially during bludgeoning or stabbing sequences. CG is used shortly at the beginning and end, yet sticks out like a sore thumb as the burning skyline filled with smoke just doesn’t look real.
The sound design was frustrating at times, dialling down screams or yells, for the music to ramp up. The score was composed by Christopher Bremus and Steven Schwalbe, who created a creepy-melancholic soundtrack.
Verdict: Andy Fetscher’s newest gory shocker is a wasted potential of a flick! It had all the right elements to not just create another generic horror movie, but one with an important socio-critical undertone. Sadly, the topic is never truly explored, simply brought up conveniently now and then, turning the once promising premise, into a tedious zombie-like film with severe pacing issues! The elderly people are inexplicably turned into inhumanly strong rage monsters, causing more laughter than scare, while the dialogues are poorly written. The cast gives a mixed performance, ranging from good to hysterically bad. Contrary, the cinematography was stunning! Capturing natural light, dust, just like pollen. However, the many quick cuts, flashing and forth between personas, did become tiering quickly. In the end, Old People is no more than sheer mediocracy. A 5.0 out of 10.
Have you seen this newest Netflix release? What did you think? Leave a comment below & as always, thank you for reading!