The Elderly Is a Fun Creepfest with Something to Say

Image provided by Dark Star Pictures

I went into The Elderly with a mix of anxious excitement and cautious trepidation. See, this film was directed by the same duo who made The Passenger, and I had very mixed feelings about that movie. I thought the horror was really good, but I disliked the characters so much that I simply couldn’t enjoy the experience. So when I heard these guys had done another horror film, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Would they make the same mistake again and ruin their great scares with unlikable characters, or would they shore up those holes and turn in a spooky gem? I simply didn’t know, but I was sure of one thing—I couldn’t wait to find out.

The Elderly was directed by Raúl Cerezo and Fernando González Gómez, and it stars Zorion Eguileor, Gustavo Salmerón, Paula Gallego, Irene Anula, Juan Acedo, and Ángela Gamonal. The movie takes place during a record heat wave in Madrid, and it follows a family of three—Mario, his second wife Lena, and his daughter Naia—as their world comes crashing down.

The family’s bad luck starts when Mario’s mother commits suicide unexpectedly, but as terrible as that tragedy is, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Soon afterwards, the family takes Mario’s widowed father, Manuel, into their home, and he quickly begins to act a bit oddly. In fact, all the elderly people in the community seem a little off, so it almost feels like they’re involved in some bizarre, cult-like conspiracy. What’s more, Mario’s family also starts to experience some strange, possibly supernatural phenomena, and when Manuel really goes off the deep end, this horrific downward spiral culminates in a deadly rampage that nobody could’ve seen coming.

Like I said before, my biggest fear going into The Elderly was the characters, but I’m happy to report that they’re way better than the group we follow in The Passenger. The acting is pretty convincing, and nobody in this movie gives you a reason to dislike them. Sure, they have their imperfections just like anybody else, but they’re all decent enough that you’re able to get on board with them fairly quickly.

An elderly woman with blood on her face
Image provided by Dark Star Pictures

That being said, I wouldn’t quite say that the characters are one of the film’s strengths. While they’re not terribly unlikable, they’re not particularly loveable either, so they don’t really elevate the movie. They’re merely adequate, so the best I can say about them is that they don’t diminish the experience.

And in a lot of other horror films, that might be a big problem. If the characters aren’t great, it can be tough to care about the scares, but thankfully, The Elderly manages to overcome that problem with ease. Sure, you won’t be too concerned about these people’s well-being, but the horror in this movie is so good that you’ll be able to enjoy it on its own merits, apart from your feelings about the characters.

Right from the get-go, directors Raúl Cerezo and Fernando González Gómez do an amazing job of injecting the film with some crazy good atmosphere. It’s admittedly not present all the time, but when it hits, it hits hard. It grabs you and draws you in immediately, and it lets you know without a doubt that something truly evil is afoot. It’s super intriguing, so whenever this atmosphere comes to the fore, it’ll make you sit up and wonder just what the hell is really going on.

What’s more, these atmospheric scenes are also genuinely creepy, and I’d even say this is the best thing about The Elderly. The movie has several moments that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, and somewhat surprisingly, very few of them involve jump scares. Sure, there are a couple of jumpy moments here and there, but for the most part, this film relies more on pure eeriness than anything else.

For example, the way Manuel and his elderly cohorts talk is often spine-chillingly ominous, and the matter-of-fact demeanor these people have as they go about their almost cult-like business is the stuff of nightmares. It’s all super effective, and as the movie goes on, these scare scenes become more frequent, longer, and more effective.

Two young people standing in front of an elderly man
Image provided by Dark Star Pictures

Then, in the final 10-15 minutes, The Elderly goes all-out on the horror, and it’s fantastic. I can’t go into any specifics without spoiling the ending, but suffice it to say that this finale takes everything the film did up until then and ramps it up to 11. It’s exactly the kind of payoff you want from a movie like this, and it ends the experience on a really high note.

Last but not least, let’s talk a bit about the film’s message. As you can probably guess from the title and the premise, this movie is essentially a metaphor for the way society views and treats the elderly. For example, when Manuel starts to act weirdly, Mario and Lena take him to a doctor, and the doctor suggests that he might have a rare form of Alzheimer’s. Along similar lines, the couple also argue about the burden the old man has become, and they even discuss the possibility of putting him in a nursing home.

On a slightly more subtle level, the horror in The Elderly mirrors the fear many younger people have of the elderly. A lot of kids and younger adults think old people are disgusting and creepy, and this film takes that idea and runs with it. It turns its elderly characters into literal horror villains, so it brings us face-to-face with the unfortunate attitude many people have towards them in real life.

It’s an excellent message, and when you combine it with the movie’s awesome horror, you get one hell of a viewing experience. Sure, the characters in The Elderly could use some work, but at the end of the day, the good in this film far outweighs the bad. It’s a super fun creepfest with something to say, so if you’re looking for some good new horror to watch this Halloween season, I highly recommend that you check this movie out.

The Elderly was released in theaters on October 13, and it’ll become available on VOD and Blu-ray on October 31.

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Written by JP Nunez

JP Nunez is a lifelong horror fan. From a very early age, he learned to love monsters, ghosts, and all things spooky, and it's still his favorite genre today.

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