We need to talk about the ending of M. Night Shyamalan’s new film

Filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan is famed for his brilliant plot twists – so it’s no surprise that the ending of his new film, Old, is attracting a lot of speculation online. But will the ending of the film be as creepy as the book that inspired it?

Warning: the following article contains heavy spoilers for Sandcastle, the inspiration for M. Night Shyamalan’s new film, Old. Only read on if you want to find out what happens at the end of the graphic novel which the film is based on.

If there’s one thing fans of M. Night Shyamalan’s films have learnt to expect over the years, it’s the unexpected. The esteemed filmmaker – known for creating cult classics such as The Sixth Sense and The Village, has delivered plenty of brilliant plot twists throughout his career.

With this in mind, everyone’s itching to find out what might happen at the end of his new film, Old. As the official synopsis reads, the film is about “a family on a tropical holiday who discover that the secluded beach where they are relaxing for a few hours is somehow causing them to age rapidly … reducing their entire lives into a single day”.

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But what is causing them to age so rapidly? And is there a way to escape the situation? 

Ever since the official trailer for the film (which you can watch below) was released at the end of May, that’s been the question on everyone’s lips – with many fans sharing their theories as to what might be going on.

However, if you can’t wait to find out what happens at the end of Old when the film hits cinemas on 23 July, you might be in luck. You see, Old is not solely the brainchild of Shyamalan – it’s inspired by Pierre Oscar Levy and Frederik Peeters’ hugely popular graphic novel, Sandcastle

While the film’s ending may differ from the book – it’s not a direct adaptation – the novel’s ending may still give us some idea of what to expect.

Intrigued? If you’re someone who loves to know the ending of a film before you’ve even watched it, keep reading to find out more about the conclusion of Sandcastle

What happens at the end of Sandcastle

Sandcastle tells the story of 13 strangers who find themselves stranded in an idyllic cove; two families with young children, an Algerian refugee who sleeps in the cliffs above the beach, a young couple and a science fiction writer.

Things seem almost utopic in the cove – the water is clear and the sun is shining – but it’s not long before the strangers start happening upon random articles of clothing, which lead them to the body of a dead girl floating in the water.

Next, the two families start to realise their children are growing – quickly. At first, the parents believe they might be imagining things – that they bought the wrong size swimming trunks, or that their children are experiencing a major growth spurt – but as the children reach and go through puberty, all within the space of a couple of hours, it’s clear something strange is happening on the beach.

Old is based on Sandcastle, the graphic novel by Pierre Oscar Lévy and Frederik Peeters.

At the same time, one of the men attempts to pin the girl’s death on the Algerian refugee, who was first on the beach and saw the young girl undress and go into the water. When he goes to call the police, however, he encounters a voice on the other end of the line saying that the number is invalid.

Confronted with the realisation that something is very wrong, many of the people attempt to leave the beach, only to be confronted by an invisible wall. It quickly dawns on one of the men that this was probably what killed the young woman in the water – she hit the wall, was knocked unconscious and drowned as a result. In short, the 13 strangers are stuck – and time is running out for all of them, fast.     

This realisation sends a kind of crazed hysteria around the group, leading many of the young adults (once-children) to act impulsively. Two pairs sneak off to sleep together, leading one of the young women to get pregnant. Of course, everything happens quickly on the beach, so within minutes she’s cradling a baby in her arms.

It’s at this point when something really unexplained happens – and it’s a point which has attracted a lot of debate online since the book was first published. Hearing the sound of gunfire behind them, the group turn around to see a young man running across the grassland which surrounds the entrance to the cove.

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The young man, a figure which one of the girls identifies as “the hotelier’s son” José, is being shot at repeatedly from someone out of sight – and before he can reach the beach, he’s gunned down and killed, leaving the reason for his appearance completely unexplained.  

At this point, everyone on the beach is completely despondent, and they return to drink up the last of the wine the families brought with them that morning. In an attempt to comfort the ‘children’ (now middle-age adults), the refugee tells them the story of a King who tries to evade death – only to lose the last seven years of his life to fear. It’s a sweet and meaningful moment which ends with the group falling asleep on top of each other.

And that’s… kind of all that happens. Forget a massive plot twist that sees everyone saved from the beach – or at least reveals the reason for their ageing – with the ‘children’ fast asleep, the parents pass away, and later on in the night, so do the ‘children’.  

The only person left on the beach in the book’s closing moments is the child born on the beach that day (who is also now a fully-grown woman), left to build a sandcastle on her own. 

Because the film is only inspired by the book – and M. Night Shyamalan is known for his plot twists – we doubt Old will end in quite so simple a manner, although we’ll have to wait and see when the film hits cinemas on 23 July.

For now, why not pick up a copy of the book and get reading? The plot may be ever-so-slightly macabre, but there’s also something strangely beautiful and meaningful about it all – especially when paired with Frederik Peeters’ haunting and detailed illustrations. 

Images: Universal Studios/SelfMadeHero

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