When a lost traveller stumbles upon an old man living in a remote cabin in the woods, the two engage in a lengthy conversation; one that will bring to light the truths they’ve been running from, the sins they’ve tried to forget, and the terrifying bond that connects them.
Old Man, written by Joel Veach and directed by Lucky McKee, stars the talents of Stephen Lang, Marc Senter, and Patch Darragh. Truth be told though; Stephen Lang carries everything that is good about this film on his shoulders.
One-location films can work, as can films with a minuscule cast. Glorious (2022) is an example of a film that pulled off both of the aforementioned asks. Old Man, however, doesn’t quite check all of the boxes required to make such a film work.
I thought that Lang acted his heart out in the titular role, giving a pretty solid performance as the seemingly senile old man living on the edge of reality. His costar for the majority of the film—Marc Senter—did not seem as comfortable in the role of Joe.
Sure, Joe’s character was meant to be a bit out of sorts, locked in a cabin with a crazy old coot and all that. There was just something about the character that felt “off” from the film’s start to the end reveals. And it’s not just Joe that gives off these unsettling vibes—there are a lot of moments in the film where the characters seem uncomfortable; perhaps with the dialogue or with the direction given.
It is hard to pinpoint which elements cause this general sense of unease, but it is strong enough to tilt our suspension of disbelief. There are, unfortunately, so many things that seem wrong about what is going on that the story seems to lose that sense of fantasy necessary to keep viewers invested in the characters and the general narrative.
When you have such a small cast, all of those characters need to be dynamic, charismatic, or downright diabolical to keep the audience’s attention for the film’s duration. When you are filming in a single location, the writing, pacing, and narrative need to be explosive (think Evil Dead or The Thing), enthralling (The Man from Earth), or intelligent enough (Sleuth) to make the audience understand that the location is integral to the experience. Old Man fails to do both, but only by a fairly small margin.
In the end, Old Man is just another psychological horror that almost did what it set out to do. Almost. Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid. The trailer and artwork are below. Old Man was released on digital platforms on June 5th and is available to watch right now.
Site founder. Horror enthusiast. Metalhead.