Review by Sean Boelman
Lucky McKee has gained quite a cult following in the horror community because of his low-budget horror pictures, but his newest film, Old Man, won’t make much of a splash. About as generic and lazy as its title would imply, the movie is a mediocre watch elevated by its lead actor.
The film follows a lost hiker who stumbles upon a cabin inhabited by an erratic old man, only to realize that he might have gotten in for more than he bargained for. It’s a set-up we’ve seen time and time again — two people with deep, dark secrets convene in an isolated location to air out all of their dirty laundry.
Of course, the pacing of the movie is absolutely horrendous thanks to the repetitive and cyclical nature of the narrative. Is the hiker who he says he is? Or is the old man lying about his true intentions? This mistrust keeps going back and forth over and over again until the audience doesn’t know — and, more importantly, doesn’t care — who is good and who is bad.
McKee does a solid job of creating a feeling of claustrophobia, at least for the first hour or so of the film. When the final act goes off the rails, any sense of scale is lost and the audience will no longer feel like they are trapped in this cabin alongside these characters. The result is a complete loss of tension.
The other big issue with the movie is that it doesn’t really manage to say much of anything. It’s the type of movie that has a bunch of metaphors and symbols, so the filmmaker probably thought it was deep, but the movie fails to engage with any of these devices in a way that is substantial or interesting.
As is the case with many films primarily set in a single location, Old Man is heavily reliant on the performance of its lead actor. Stephen Lang has proven time and time again that, even when he is given subpar material, he is able to make something genuinely compelling out of the character, and this is another example of that. His delivery might be a bit exaggerated, but it’s unsettling enough to work.
On the other hand, his co-star, Marc Senter, gives a performance that isn’t particularly impressive. It doesn’t help that Lang is essentially acting circles around him, but his performance is shallow and cold. We are supposed to empathize with the character, but ultimately, he serves little more purpose than to be the recipient of Lang’s lashings.
The only thing that keeps Old Man afloat is a strong performance by Stephen Lang. He manages to take material that is generic and underdeveloped and makes the most of it, allowing Lucky McKee to deliver a thriller that is watchable, even if it is entirely unmemorable.
Old Man is now in theaters and on VOD.