The Elderly (2022) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

The Elderly (2022) Review

Horrorific content by christina on July 20th, 2022 | Movie Review | Slow Burn, Supernatural, Drama, Psychological, Madness, Thriller, Dysfunctional Family

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It's about a heat wave that starts making older people act strangely.

The Elderly was directed by Fernando González Gómez (The Passenger) and Raúl Cerezo (The Passenger) and stars Irene AnulaZorion Eguileor (All the Moons, The Platform), Josele RománPaula Gallego (The Passenger), Juan AcedoGustavo Salmerón (V/H/S: Viral, The Art of Dying, and 99.9 La Frecuencia del Terror (1997)), and Carmen Ibeas (The Passenger).

The Elderly (2022) Review

There's something amiss with the elderly in The Elderly. The record-breaking heat wave has them behaving oddly, and the temperature is still on the rise. After the success of their previous film, The Passenger, Cerezo and González Gómez decided to tackle the horror genre with a slow-burning, atmospheric examination of society's alienation of the elderly. Unfortunately, however, the restraint and cryptic nature of the film's scares make it more lukewarm than genuinely harrowing.

At the start of the heat wave, Manuel lies in bed as his wife listens to music in another room. Something inside her snaps, and she goes to the apartment balcony in a daze. The camera cuts here, giving no clear indication of what caused her death, though the police believe it was suicide. After she died, Manuel's son Mario wanted his dad to move in with Mario's family so he could take care of him. Lena is unhappy about Mario's plan, while his daughter Naia alternates between worrying for her grandfather and adjusting to their new life. The heat alarmingly exacerbates Manuel's deteriorating state, and it's soon clear that he isn't the only senior citizen acting strangely.

Cerezo and González, working from a script that Cerezo co-wrote with Rubén Sánchez and Trigos Javier Trigales, play it safe with the horror elements. The filmmakers offer up spooky motifs and hints that feel too difficult to understand and struggle to create suspense and fear in many of them effectively. The clues are there; the unsettling, recurring song; the eerie whispers; the lurking neighbors; and the enigmatic notes referring to "them" all hint at a more considerable terror driving the older residents to madness. However, these clues remain obtuse and difficult to put together until it's too late.

The setting is incredibly creepy, with the dark colors making the apartment building look foreboding. Ignacio Aguilar's cinematography is excellent, adding to the unease felt by the viewer. The film's depiction of the elderly residents is creepy and unsettling in some parts. However, just as a scene is about to become frightening, directors Cerezo and González choose to prolong the sense of unease and uncertainty. The plot is hard to follow and takes too long to get going. The ending is good, but it's not enough to make up for the slow start.

There is a lack of agreement among the characters. Mario, Naia, and Lena have different perspectives on older people, ranging from treating them like babies to disgust. It's clear that this slow-paced movie examines the treatment of senior citizens, but it's unfocused. Mario's unemployment factors into his relationship with Lena, but it goes unresolved and doesn't seem to factor much into the overarching plot. Naia is the only young person in the film, and she doesn't seem to have many purposes.

Worth Watching? 

The Elderly slowly builds up the tension with cards that signal the rising temperatures, an obvious way of signaling that the horror will get worse and worse. While it does end with a dramatic and exciting finish, the slow build-up to it never manages to turn up the fear. Although it is technically well-made and emphasizes atmosphere and style, it is not very effective regarding scares, and its mysteries are mostly inaccessible until the end.

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