This old man, who we learn has a name, is certainly isolated and tough, but he is certainly not stoic. He’s mumbling curses and wandering around his rather well-maintained cabin in the mountains/woods when there’s a knock on the door. The old man welcomes his visitor, shotgun in hand. Rather than immediately turn around and run, the young man, named Joe and played by Marc Senter, says he’s a hiker and is lost. Eventually, the old man pulls him inside, and the conversation, quite hostile on the old man’s side, begins. And so the spectator realizes that the “killer” part of the character is destined to emerge.
“I’m not too sure what you’re saying isn’t a bunch of crap?” said the old man, continuing to ask “How do I know you’re not some fucking psycho killer?” The youngest is pissed off but manages to keep up. We are talking about cannibalism. The young man says he is not one, and the reason he gives is “It’s against the law”.
“It’s against the law,” agrees the old man. “And besides, eating people is disgusting.”
The writing, especially the dialogues, is the weakest part of this film directed by Lucky McKee. Joel Veach’s screenplay includes such chestnuts as “That’s the problem with you youngsters these days.” Later, the old man talks about drugging a previous visitor, saying he “put a little something something” in the man’s drink. I don’t think this idiom is something a rural quasi-hermit would pull out of their conversation bag, but there you go.
In the first half hour or so, one fears that this two-handed game is a kind of allegory with a touch of genre. McKee’s staging in the confined cabin is flawless, and the staging, as they called it, is equally well thought out. And the story eventually gets to a point where it leaves the allegory behind and becomes a kind of horror movie. The tables turning in the power dynamic between the two characters are predictable, but McKee handles this deftly and applies a certain Lynch-influenced discomfort to the proceedings. The film builds up enough steam and has enough jerkiness that “Old Man” sticks to the ribs at least a little by the time it’s over.
Now playing in theaters and available on digital platforms.