Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer
Plot: A woman travels home with her two kids for her sister’s wedding but finds herself defending her family against homicidal pensioners.
Warning: Medium Spoilers Ahead
Review: Fear might be subjective but there are things in this world that everyone can agree scare/scared us at one time or another and one of those universal fears is the fear of aging.
Old People may not be the first movie to address this; most recently 2020’s Relic took on the topic while also exploring themes like dementia and of course we had whatever M. Night Shyamalan’s Old was supposed to be. This time around writer and director Andy Fetscher (The Depraved) tackles the frustration, fear and ultimately the rage felt by the elderly among us who have been shuttered away in retirement homes.
Adding a vague supernatural take to the proceedings, we see a woman Ella (Melika Foroutan) who, along with her two children Laura and Noah, are on their way to celebrate the nuptials of Ella’s sister Sanna. Prior to this we have a scene where a nurse visits an old man at his home to check on him only to be brutally bludgeoned to death by him with his oxygen tank. Presently, Ella and her kids head to her father’s retirement home where her ex-husband Lucas’ current girlfriend Kim works. During the visit Ella notes the terrible conditions of the home, seeing its elderly tenants looking haggard and, in some cases, dazed. She sees a woman tied to a bed and is told by Kim they don’t have the resources to watch them, and this is the only way to keep them wandering off from the facility.
When Ella greets her father, she’s dismayed to see how unhappy and lonely he looks, promising to visit him more often but as the wedding progresses and the evening wears on the elderly patients are triggered by the harsh treatment of an orderly. And after he roughly manhandles one of them, chaos erupts with the seniors (led by the same old man shown in the opening scene) start killing the nurses, taking over the facility and soon enough taking their rage out on any of the unlucky townsfolk they can find.
This German film co-produced by Netflix does an admirable job of making these zombie-like old people genuinely terrifying. Fetscher does a fine job of setting things up by having the audience spend just enough time with the lead characters to connect with them, while also wasting no time in getting into the very visceral horror of it all. Gerhard Bos as The Old Man who leads the others like him into this bloody retribution against those who have “forgotten” about them, manages to evoke genuine fear as he may be old, but his physical appearance and movement denotes anything but a man of his age. The brutality here may surprise a lot of people (myself included) and leaves zero doubt that this is indeed meant to be a horror movie. At the same time Fetscher has a lot to say about how society discards its elderly, forgetting these are real people with the same emotions as anyone else and how that fury can build over time and inevitably overflow into something nightmarish.
As to the supernatural side of things here, the movie does open with narration about an old belief about how an avenging spirit was thought to inhabit old people and drive them to a blinding rage, but the story itself doesn’t expand on this and honestly, it didn’t need to. Although it’s not the first movie to tackle these themes (The Visit is also a solid example) it does so in an impressive way and more significantly delivers a fresh take the fear of getting old in a way that should delight all genre fans.
Score: 7 out of 10
And you can check out more great old people-related horror content below:
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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