M. Night Shyamalan’s Film ‘Old’ Is Based on a Graphic Novel

Director M. Night Shyamalan needs little introduction. The director first made it big with the smash hit The Sixth Sense, following it up with compelling, character-driven stories in the horror and action genres, the majority of them having some sort of “Shyamalan twist” as a hook.

M. Night Shyamalan speaking on stage in front of a screen with the 'OLD' movie poster
M. Night Shyamalan | Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

His latest feature, Old, hits theaters on July 23. Like many intriguing screenplays these days, the movie is based on a graphic novel and one that’s right up Shyamalan’s alley as a creative.

Shyamalan is a fan of the graphic novel the movie is based on

Old is based on the graphic novel Sandcastle by Pierre Oscar Levy and Frederik Peeters. It follows a group of people who find a dead body washed up on a beach. From there, things start to get strange as they all realize that there’s something unusual about where they are and the things that are happening to them.

As you can tell from just that small teaser, this story is a creepy tale with a plot that grows darker and more mysterious as it goes on. That’s probably a reason why Shyamalan wanted to make it so badly. As Collider announced, the director first encountered the book after receiving it as a Father’s Day gift, falling in love with the premise immediately. He bought the rights to adapt the story shortly after and got to work making the film.

A career of ups and downs

Early in his career, there was seemingly no stopping for Shyamalan. Between comparing his horror-themed stories to the likes of Stephen King and certain outlets dubbing him “the next Spielberg,” the filmmaker seemed like he could do no wrong. But after Signs came The Village, which many felt was a letdown compared to the trio of overwhelmingly praised movies that came before it.

From there, Shyamalan would release what many consider some of the worst movies of modern Hollywood: Lady in the Water, a bizarre modern fable with a lack of explanation and an extremely self-indulgent and Christ-like cameo by the director himself.

The Happening, most remembered as “that one about the killer trees” starring a shockingly wooden Mark Wahlberg; and The Last Airbender, a cartoon adaption so bad that members of the original show’s cast and crew still talk about it.

With Devil and After Earth being similarly maligned, it seemed like much of the early praise for the filmmaker was a bit unwarranted. In 2015, however, Shyamalan came back with the found footage film The Visit, which many considered an improvement over his last several works.

His next features, Split and Glass (a stealth sequel and direct sequel, respectively, to Unbreakable), were also praised, the last few years being hailed a return to form for the director leading into Old.

Shyamalan has adapted stories before

While Shyamalan is frequently praised for his original ideas (regardless of how well those ideas get executed in the end), Old is not the only time he’s worked with someone else’s story. The aforementioned The Last Airbender is the most prominent example and will hopefully not give us an idea as to how this adaption will turn out.

Like any adaption, though, the question of how much will change and how much will stay the same is always there. Some, like the folks at Looper, speculate that the ending might be where Shyamalan takes the most liberties.

While most of us won’t know anything for certain until the movie is available to watch, one can be hopeful that we’ll get another hit out of Shyamalan on a project he seems to be passionate about.

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