WARNING: The following contains SPOILERS for Old.
In one of the most shocking and disturbing scenes of M. Night Shyalaman’s Old, a baby is delivered and dies moments after birth. But why does it happen so quickly? Due to the warped logistics of time on the beach where the film is set, even the youngest member of the trapped group cannot survive long.
Based on the graphic novel Sandcastle, Shyalaman’s Old follows a group of families and couples enticed into visiting a private beach outside the resort at which they’re staying. They soon realize that time works differently on the beach, speeding up the aging process, aggravating any preexisting conditions and diseases Old characters have, and killing them one by one. It becomes a literal race against time as the group tries to find a means of escape.
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The central family that’s followed in Old consists of mother Prisca, who works in a museum, father Guy, who has a job in insurance, 6-year-old Trent, and 11-year-old Maddox. Since time works differently on the beach, both Prisca and Guy meet their demise, and Trent and Maddox leave the beach in their fifties. The way that time passes on the island can be a little confusing to understand, especially when it comes to the newborn, who dies immediately. Here’s why the baby dies so fast in Old, along with how time works on the beach, and Kara and Chrystal’s deaths explained.
How [SPOILER] Dies In Old And Why It’s So Quick
One of the most bizarre deaths in Old is that of Trent and Kara’s newborn. Trapped on the beach, children Trent, Maddox, and Kara are subjected to years’ worth of hormones, growing pains, and a series of firsts in the span of hours. Teenagers Trent and Kara act on their new feelings, resulting in Kara’s accelerated pregnancy and subsequent childbirth. Because the group determines that they are all aging two years every hour, the moments that follow the baby’s birth amount to weeks without sustenance, and the child quickly dies of starvation. This is why the resort’s van driver, played by M. Night Shyalaman, gives the group an excessive amount of food for the children when he drops them off, as their bodies haven’t fully developed yet. It is also why, as the children age up per hour, they’re constantly hungry and eating to fuel themselves.
Infants need to be fed frequently at the beginning of their lives. If Trent and Kara’s baby had been fed as soon as it was born, it would have likely survived and aged at a high rate of speed. Because no one tended to it immediately, however, the child seemed doomed from the start. Conversely, in the graphic novel Sandcastle, the baby survives, and outlives everyone else, growing into an adult woman. After everyone else dies of old age, only the woman is left, crafting a sandcastle alone at the end of the story.
How Time Works In Old
In Old, the time aspect is by far the most difficult to understand and also creates several plotholes in the movie. The magnetic field surrounding the beach in Old bounces off the rocks and minerals in the ocean, somehow making everyone age by two years every hour. Since they each have a disease (except for the children) that only gets worse with time, this is how Prisca’s tumor grows to the size of a softball, Charles’ schizophrenia worsens, Khrystal’s calcium deficiency eventually kills her, and Mid-Size Sedan’s blood disorder forces constant nosebleeds. The discrepancies created by the time fast-forwarding come in the form of two unexplainable caveats.
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The first plot hole in Old has to do with the coral. While Trent initially theorized they could escape the beach by using the metal tube, a note from Idlib explains that his “uncle doesn’t like the coral.” The brother and sister flee through the coral-lined tunnel, which doesn’t make sense with how the timelapse operates. Another inconsistency has to do with dead cells not being affected by the phenomena, which is the explanation behind why their hair and nails don’t grow super fast. If dead cells were not affected by the timelapse, then the bodies wouldn’t have been able to decompose. Some decomposition would occur, however, just not in the way the movie depicts.
How Kara Dies In Old
Kara’s death in Old is tragic, considering just hours before, she birthed and lost a child. One plan the group created to escape the beach consisted of climbing up the cliffside to possibly avoid the adverse effects of leaving the beach. Kara attempts this after being forced to bury her baby’s bones. Unfortunately, the climb doesn’t go well, and she ends up experiencing the usual effects of trying to leave the beach. Once she reaches a ledge, she passes out and falls to her death.
Chrystal’s Death In Old
Chrystal’s death in Old is directly linked to her calcium deficiency. After aging and facing some disfigurement due to her illness, she hides away in the caves. Maddox and Trent run into Chrystal, and use matches to try and see in the dark cave. This angers Chrystal, who begins throwing increasingly heavy boulders at them. Toward Old’s ending, Chrystal’s effort to harm them backfires, and she ends up hurting herself by breaking her calcium-deficient bones. Since time goes by so fast on the beach, the bones end up healing before they can be correctly set. Therefore, Chrystal dies a horrible death after being brutally disfigured in her attempts to get to Maddox and Trent.
Old does not shy away from the brutality of life—people on the beach die suddenly and sometimes violently at the hands of a pharmaceutical company seeking cures. The baby’s death is especially difficult because it is so quick and could have been prevented if the rest of the group had been prepared. Overall, Old’s twisty ending likely wouldn’t have the same emotional impact if the baby had lived and never made it off the beach.
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