Old People (2022) Finally Get Their Vengeance in This German Netflix Horror
Title: Old People
First Non-Festival Release: October 7, 2022 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Andy Fetscher
Writer: Andy Fetscher
Runtime: 101 Minutes
Starring: Bianca Nawrath, Melika Foroutan, Otto Emil Koch
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Recently divorced Ella (Melika Foroutan) travels to her childhood home for her sister’s wedding. Her teenage daughter Laura (Bianca Nawrath) is excited to catch up with her crush Alex (Louie Betton) and her son Noah (Otto Emil Koch) is excited to see his grandfather (Paul Faßnacht). She dreads running into her ex-husband, Lukas (Stephan Luca) and his girlfriend Kim (Anna Unterberger) who works as an orderly at the local retirement home where she must pick up her father. The wedding goes off without a hitch and the crew celebrates accordingly. All is calm until the elderly are beset with an unquenchable thirst for violence.
Brutal German slasher Old People manages to craft a few true scares while serving up a helping of social commentary.
Another surprise foreign language hit from Netflix, Old People succeeds in its dark vision of generational horrors. Taking much liberty from The Night of the Living Dead, this German hit depicts the elderly as a terrifying force, almost like a hive mind, capable of causing great harm when they get together. Their targets are confined to those who have neglected them, or that they perceive to abandon them.
Before the film gets started, Old People frames the terror with some folkloric knowledge to contextualize the events of the film. While it is a clunky insert and ultimately barely affects the plot, it clearly is the superior method of intertwining it into the story rather than shoe-horning it into the plot after the action gets going.
While jealousy and revenge may be clear motives behind the havoc they wreak, the true intentions of the elderly can be interpreted in several ways when considering the commentary of the film. The most obvious conclusion one can draw is that the old are rising up against the young due to the terrible conditions they are subjected to throughout the film. The retirement home is understaffed by vindictive or exhausted employees, crowded with occupants, and generally filthy. It’s understandable that a huge celebration of life and happiness filled with loved ones, laughter, and music would set them off after one indiscretion against them too many. Elder abuse is a real thing, and its rightfully a caused to fire up rage.
The onslaught can also be interpreted through the specific lens of today’s generational dynamics. Many young people feel as if previous generations have stolen their future due to selfish actions related to housing, the workforce, and the environment, among other spheres of life. What is one more thing that these folks can take from them but their lives entirely? Be it out of greed, jealousy, or spite, this angst is palpable in today’s politics so the battles on screen can replace the actual debates carried out in the cybersphere or through dinner table conversations. The woefully bleak tone and noticeably muted color palette most effectively used during the massacre sequences help beef up these claims of a soullessly grey future for the young protagonists.
A surprisingly tense and scary watch, Old People succeeds in crafting some truly excellent scares. Admittedly, expectations were low for this reviewer going into the film, but they were certainly exceeded once it got to the meat of the narrative. Boasting several memorable kills and some truly riveting chase scenes, Old People knows how to shock and excite.
Its commitment to these themes and terrifying set pieces is admirable, but Old People still stumbles in a few places. Once the characters are introduced to the terror, they take almost no time to decide that the octogenarians are out to get them specifically. While it helps keep the film taut, it lacks a certain level of rationality most people would have if they discovered a wandering retirement home occupant on their property. Despite some on-the-nose foreshadowing and a bevy of baffling character decisions towards the end the film’s entertainment value is affected very little.
Unfairly maligned, this Netflix chiller is a fun ride filled with plenty of tense chase sequences and unexpected scares. While the story isn’t anything revelatory and there are plenty of mistakes made in terms of characterization, Old People makes for a solid horror film nonetheless. Capable performances and interesting directorial choices allow the film to lean into its silliness without veering too far off course in terms of messaging. Love it or hate, Old People is a fine deviation of zombie-esque horror that should entertain most horror hounds.
Overall Score? 7/10