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"Sandcastles" - my 1hr, 30min fanedit of Shyamalan's "Old"

Gibichung

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TLDR: “Sandcastles” delivers a more personal and less contrived closure to M. Night Shyamalan’s 2021 film “Old.” It trims the first act and removes the final scenes of the resort’s objectives and protagonists' triumphant resolution.


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Background:
I found Shyamalan’s films tend to explain themselves with revelations that come across as phony at first. In my favorite Shyamalan films, those “twists” felt earned and overall made them much better. What was interesting about “Old” was that, yes, it absolutely ended in such a contrived, unearned, ridiculous fashion, yet the journey inside contained some of his best work. The body horror and suspense were as impressive as any. The night scene at the beach has probably the most affecting moments he’s ever directed.

So, I decided to take a crack at it in a way where the scenes of the two remaining protagonists building sandcastles would be how that movie ended. It felt right. It wouldn’t explain how or why, but I don’t think you needed to. This ended up being a pretty straightforward fan-edit. Title I went with is “Sandcastles” based on the graphic novel “Sandcastle” (singular) by Pierre Oscar Levy and Frederik Peeters- which was what the movie was based on as well.

Main changes:
  1. Trimmed the first act for pace. You can never get away from some of Shyamalan’s awkward dialogue, so I tried to make some of that work with a few cuts here and there. I took out a few lines like, “cAN yOu BeLieVE I foUNd ThIs onLINe?!?” and other words from characters who don’t matter. Again, I removed a few dialogue and some lingering shots, but not too many of them. It still has to feel like a Shyamalan movie.
  2. Removed scene at sunrise with the woman and Brendan (Mid-Sized Sedan). I struggled with this, actually. I wanted to keep this in because it gives the viewer information that the characters don’t have which leads to compelling conflict later on. But I took it out because the scene started out dark at sunrise yet Brendan didn’t age when the others get to the beach (later, Maddox recognizes him instantly). The sequence of events after the sunrise scene made it seem like Brendan’s been there for hours, but I don’t know. Now, there were TONS of other plot holes in this movie don’t get me wrong, but this felt like it broke its own rules. Interestingly enough, removing this makes you as the viewer face your own implicit biases when Charles starts questioning and acting out his own suspicions. In both the original and in this version, Charles was always in the wrong with his rage, and the beach perpetuated his schizophrenic episodes down the line as he continued to harm the beachgoers.
  3. The movie ends with Maddox and Trent building a sandcastle. No research teams. No desperate escape. I moved some shots around to make it work, but again, this was super straightforward. Yeah, the characters kept talking about their illnesses and suggesting why they might be there, so I’m not saying the clues weren’t laid out. And I admit this edit will make it 100% more vague as to why and what happens to Maddox and Trent. But I think the siblings coming together was all it needed to wrap it up. All I was aiming for was poignancy because I really do like this movie despite such a labored ending. But hey, that’s just my opinion.
  4. Replaced end-credits song with “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi” by Radiohead. I didn’t think the original song was bad or anything (Fun fact, “Remain” is by Saleka, Shyamalan’s daughter). I just associated “Weird Fishes” as a beach song, and I like the song. Coincidentally, the lyrics sort of fits the ending.

Poster:
I'm not a graphic designer. But there was a beautiful shot at night with the family all huddled up. It was so striking so I used that. I also used the typeface design from end-credits animation. When I put this together, they kind of look like sandcastles. All done by accident, by the way.

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I urge people to see “Old” if y’all haven’t seen it. Hell, I thought “Knock at the Cabin” was even better to be honest. Not a single weak link in that movie- a lean-mean machine. It does do that that thing in the end, but I think there’s enough polish in the writing where the dialogue surprisingly keeps the movie afloat better than the actual plot.

Let me know if you want to see “Sandcastles.”
 
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Dwight Fry

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Old is typical Shyamalan: captivating concept, TERRIBLE dialogue. The characters never feel like human beings, instead they seem to inhabit a bad comic book. Good old M. Night is desperately in need of a solid co-writer, one who's good at dialogue. This, again, was just a rewrite away from being a great movie.

I don't even dislike the reveal. It's the clumsy, expository way it is presented what I dislike. And the contrivance of the resolution, of course: like just a call from a cop with a completely unbelievable story would ever stop a pharma corporation, and like it wouldn't buy those in command to sweep the missing persons address book under the rug . Worst of all is that final triumphant helicopter scene. Just ugh.

Your edit concept seems intriguing. There's only one thing that worries me: can the character writing be fixed enough so we actually care for them, so we come for the premise and stay for the characters, and get to value the trip more than the destination? Without doubting your abilities at all, having enjoyed your work before, I'm afraid that with Shyamalan's carboard cutout characters and without closure, this might come across as a shaggy dog story...
 

Gibichung

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Old is typical Shyamalan: captivating concept, TERRIBLE dialogue. The characters never feel like human beings, instead they seem to inhabit a bad comic book. Good old M. Night is desperately in need of a solid co-writer, one who's good at dialogue. This, again, was just a rewrite away from being a great movie.

I don't even dislike the reveal. It's the clumsy, expository way it is presented what I dislike. And the contrivance of the resolution, of course: like just a call from a cop with a completely unbelievable story would ever stop a pharma corporation, and like it wouldn't buy those in command to sweep the missing persons address book under the rug . Worst of all is that final triumphant helicopter scene. Just ugh.

Your edit concept seems intriguing. There's only one thing that worries me: can the character writing be fixed enough so we actually care for them, so we come for the premise and stay for the characters, and get to value the trip more than the destination? Without doubting your abilities at all, having enjoyed your work before, I'm afraid that with Shyamalan's carboard cutout characters and without closure, this might come across as a shaggy dog story...
I think that totally make sense, and provided that Shyamalan got two additional writers for the "Knock at the Cabin", I think his wors impulses were reined back in that movie (still very Shyamalan though). And I do think "Knock at the Cabin" is a superior thriller than "Old."

About that ending- yep hahaa. Just made no sense and ultimately sabotaged the emotional journey IMO.

Anyway, unfortunately I don't think this edit redefines the characters too far from the original.- just being up front about it. I don't think you'll buy into it any differently. Perhaps a slightly quicker pace at the beginning which gets to the main conflict between the two parents a little faster will make you care for them? (which is what I did but not based on characters- just purely on cutting down dialogue).

Where I differ from others is that I DID care for the main family in the end. I actually felt for Maddox, and I thought Thomasin McKenzie gave an actual great performance. To your point, before it got too crazy, I needed to end the movie right there lol And really that's the point for me.
 
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