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M. Night Shyamalan reveals the movies and TV show that inspired Old

From Japanese and Mexican horror thrillers to classic sci-fi anthologies

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Gael García Bernal as Guy in M. Night Shyamalan’s Old Photo: Universal Pictures

What does a “beach that makes you old” have to do with a 1968 horror movie set in feudal Japan? According to Old director M. Night Shyamalan, everything. Late last week, Shyamalan took to Twitter to share five films (and one predictable-but-essential television series) that inspired him during the filming of his latest supernatural thriller.

Old stars Gael García Bernal (Y tu mamá también) and Vicky Krieps (Phantom Thread) as Guy and Prisca, an estranged couple who travel to a tropical result with their young children as a final family vacation before their imminent divorce. Together with an ensemble cast including Rufus Sewell (Dark City), Abbey Lee (The Neon Demon), Aaron Pierre (The Underground Railroad), and others, the family find themselves inadvertently trapped on a mysterious beach that causes them to age rapidly. As their physical and mental capacities begin to deteriorate with each passing hour, the family must search for a means of escaping the beach before time runs out.

Of the films that served as principal inspiration for Old, which itself is based on Pierre Oscar Levy and Frederik Peeters’ 2013 graphic novel Sandcastle, Shyamalan pointed to such classic movies as Nicholas Roeg’s survival film Walkabout, the 1975 Australian mystery Picnic at Hanging Rock, Kaneto Shindo’s supernatural horror film Kuroneko, Luis Buñuel’s 1962 supernatural drama The Exterminating Angel, and Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. And of course, Shyamalan managed to sneak in a mention to Rod Serling’s landmark sci-fi anthology series The Twilight Zone.

A man with a blindfolded lamb brandishes a kife towards a woman staring intensely at him in The Exterminating Angel. Photo: Criterion Collection

Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel feels like the most obvious inspiration of the five films, with its premise concerning a group of wealthy aristocrats who attend a dinner party only to later discover that they are inexplicably unable to leave. Certain scenes involving the family’s thwarted attempts to escape the beach bear an uncanny resembles to camera shots and scenes from Picnic at Hanging Rock, while the film’s disorienting close-up cinematography feels reminiscent of some of Kuroneko’s more surrealistic sequences.

And of course, you can’t have a horror movie set on a beach that doesn’t pay homage in some form or another to Jaws.

Here’s where you can watch each of the films that inspired Old:

1. Walkabout is available to stream on Criterion Channel.

2. Picnic at Hanging Rock is available to stream on HBO Max.

3. Kuroneko is available to stream on Criterion Channel.

4. The Exterminating Angel is available to stream on Criterion Channel.

5. Jaws is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

5. The Twilight Zone is available to stream on Paramount Plus.

Old is currently open in theaters.

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