Old Man

Old Man is the most monotonous movie I've seen in a long time. It has one note, which it proceeds to hit again and again and again for 97 agonizingly slow minutes. Director Lucky McKee has made some very good horror films, including May and The Woman. This time, however, he's working from a substandard screenplay by Joel Veach that lacks any elements that are fresh or worth getting invested in. It gives me no pleasure to say the film is a real clunker.

Stephen Lang plays the title character, a cranky guy living alone in a cabin out in the middle of nowhere. He is beyond surprised when there's a knock on his door. The visitor is Joe (Marc Senter), a young man claiming to have gotten lost in the woods. His story is suspicious, so Old Man starts grilling him with a lot of questions while pointing a loaded shotgun at his face. From there, the movie is one long conversation where the Old Man tries to figure out what Joe's deal is, and Joe tries to figure out what Old Man's deal is.

If you're going to have a movie with only two characters in one location, the dialogue had better be riveting. Old Man's dialogue is weak, needlessly elongating simple ideas for the sole sake of creating a fake air of mystery. The stunningly flat script contains no wit or suspense. The men talk in circles endlessly, never saying anything of actual substance. Listening to them do this verbal dance without getting anywhere is maddening.

Presumably, this is supposed to be a showcase for Stephen Lang. He's a good actor I always enjoy seeing, but Old Man is a character with no depth. We intentionally learn almost nothing about him because the story is saving important stuff for the Twilight Zone-esque twist in the last five minutes. With nowhere to go, Lang is left doing a riff on the character he played in the far superior Don't Breathe, to much lesser effect. Senter, on the other hand, gives an amateurish performance that is thoroughly unconvincing. It's all nervous stammering, done in a manner that feels forced. Consequently, you don't care about Joe at all.

Old Man strives for irony in its “shocking” finale. Seeing where the story is headed before it gets there isn't difficult, though. There's only one direction for such a thin plot to go. Once the revelation arrives, you realize that you've just endured 90 minutes of tediousness to get to an obvious cheap stunt of an ending. In a way, I suppose a lame ending to a lifeless movie is weirdly appropriate.

out of four

Old Man is unrated, but contains adult language and brief strong violence. The running time is 1 hour and 37 minutes.