In M. Night Shyamalan’s Old, people age at an alarming rate, but their hair never grows or turns white. There is a reason, but it creates a hole in the plot.
WARNING: Spoilers for Old below.
In Old, the unfortunate people trapped on the damn beach age quickly, so why does anyone’s hair turn white? The reason for the rapid aging in Old it is never fully explained. But the movie finally offers an explanation for why their hair and nails don’t grow at the same rate as the rest of their bodies, and the real reason may be monetary.
M. Night Shyamalan Old follows a group of strangers on vacation at the same resort. The manager offers them the VIP treatment and takes the group to an exclusive secret beach. What seems idyllic at first eventually turns to terror as the group realizes that they are all aging at an inexplicable and unstoppable rate. Supernatural circumstances prevent them from taking the path that would allow them to escape, and the group is in a race against time to find a way to get off the beach before they all die.
During Old, the characters slowly put the puzzle pieces together, figuring out how much time equals one year and why they can’t get off the beach. One of your starting points is confusion: why your hair doesn’t turn white and nails don’t grow at a rapid rate. The answer, as one member of the group realizes, is that hair and nails are made up of dead cells, and the beach distortion only affects living cells. It’s a convenient way of explaining the real (and real-world) issue that is likely behind this – keeping up with rapidly changing hair and nails would have cost the Old production equipment a huge amount of money.
In reality, Shyamalan and his team probably just wanted to avoid a huge wig budget. The group in Old Over time he deduces that they age one year every half hour they spend on the beach. So if the movie had the victims’ hair growing and changing at the same rate, the wig budget for the movie would have just been out of control. The movie would have had to make a handful of realistic-looking wigs for each character. It would be a great undertaking to keep up and if the wigs didn’t look absolutely realistic, the voluntary suspension of disbelief would have been broken. M. Night Shyamalan’s solution to avoiding an overabundance of wigs in Old it was smart. However, the solution to an unnecessarily costly problem came with an obvious plot.
On the surface, Shyamalan’s answer to this question makes sense. The vast majority of moviegoers will not have intensive biology training. Despite that, the horror movie unwittingly created a loophole in its own logic. Early in Old, reluctant test subjects on the beach discover the body of a dead woman. Judging from the appearance of his body, the group concludes that he must have died recently. After a short time, they look at the body again and see that it has rapidly decomposed. If beach distortion only affects living cells, a corpse shouldn’t have decomposed at that rate. In any case, however, the explanation given in Old it was still intriguing.
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