Old People. or The night of the living grandparents

I just can’t want the Germans badly.

Um, sorry, what a bad sentence I wrote, and misunderstanding! I’ll explain.

Streaming platforms have many flaws, but they also have the undeniable merit of having opened their catalog to film worlds other than the American and English ones. We have even noticed it in Italy, where Netflix is ​​mainly financing our own products, designed first of all for local distribution but which are then also distributed in the rest of the world. And we also noticed this because, by the same logic, our catalogs are full of films and TV series that come from countries from which we usually only fish a few, selected products every year. Old People it’s just the latest example, and this is its trailer:

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The Italian Netflix catalog (I’m talking about the red N because Old People is there, but similar arguments can also be made for Prime, Disney, Sky et cetera) is populated with films produced in exotic countries such as Germany or Spain. The Netflix catalog, however, is also a place teeming with films that would once have been defined as “direct-to-video”: low-budget products that are always related to some kind of “genre”, be it horror or thriller. or horror / thriller. The blasphemous union of the two – trash films and films made in non-English-speaking countries – has given us, over the years, several interesting products (it comes to mind The Swarma French eco-horror that talks about bees), as many unspeakable ciofeche and some sensational cases and for a few days even viral (you remember The hole?).

Netflix

In this composite and multiform panorama, German works almost always manage to stand out. Just think about Darkthe series that resurrected the fandom of Lost through time travel, paradoxes and mindfuck: 90% of the audience of Dark he would never have thought one day of finding himself watching a series in German with subtitles. Let’s be clear: products that come from Germany are not always valid, but take for example Blood Red Sky, a vampire movie set on an airplane. It’s mediocre and poorly written, but it has some great ideas and a slightly different approach to the figure of the bloodsucker, and therefore manages to be remembered despite being a 5.5 film.

My opening sentence therefore wanted to express all this in a few words: every now and then a German film appears on Netflix, and almost always it is a horror or an action, and every time I end up watching it, and I come out dissatisfied because critical but always titillated and intrigued by what I have just seen. If I were German genre cinema I would try to sell myself just like this: “Maybe I suck, but I never get bored!”. Old People it doesn’t get to suck, but it’s a frayed film and too busy hammering our heads with its messages and its metaphorons to remember to have, so to speak, a rhythm. Yet, yet …

old people

Netflix

The first thing you’ll want to do in the end Old People it will be to visit the grandparents who have remained there and hug them very strongly. Unfortunately I don’t have any more, so I’m here writing this piece. Old People is a film that warns the younger generations against abandoning the elderly: “don’t forget grandfather Arzillo and grandma Catalda” he says “if you don’t want them to turn into zombies!”. It is set in an anonymous village in Germany, one of those places in the middle of nowhere that are becoming depopulated as the new generations decide to move to the city to try to have a life.

Specifically, this anonymous village is characterized exclusively by the presence of a large retirement home: 90% of the population is made up of the guests of the hospice, and the few people left under the age of eighty work there. Among these is Kim, who is Lukas’s new girlfriend, who is divorced from the protagonist Ella, who is one of those who left the country to move to Berlin: Old People it is above all a family and dining room drama, and for once it is not an exaggeration – there are so many dining rooms, not least because the family home of Ella and Sister Sanna is a gigantic and gloomy mansion.

old people

Netflix

Sanna is about to get married, and it is for this reason that Ella, together with her children Laura and Noah, is returning to the country, where among other things she will meet her ex-husband, with whom relations have remained cordial and who perhaps, who knows. , he still feels something for her – maybe, who knows, even reciprocated. It is on this Italian dramedy atmosphere that the horror side of the film is grafted, predicted right at the opening of the film by a vaguely folkloristic explanation and above all written. You must know, in fact, that according to local mythology there is an evil spirit that occasionally takes possession of an elderly person when he feels alone, abandoned and set aside by the society that does not know what to do with her fragility. This spirit transforms the person into a kind of bloodthirsty zombie, who grunts, gibbers and has only murder in mind.

The matter is presented to us as something that happens regularly and of which society does not seem to care much: the old are always marginalized and closed in retirement homes to spend their last years, every now and then one of these becomes a monster, kills someone, it is stopped and away, it starts again. The problem is that this time we are in a country that is full of Old People – a ghost village inhabited only by the forgotten bodies of those who once lived there, and who today are just waiting for the days to pass and bring them a little closer to death. And so this mass of elders, triggered as the young people say from the celebrations for Sanna’s wedding, she is possessed en masse by the evil spirit, and suddenly what seemed like a wedding like many becomes The night of the living grandparents.

old people

Netflix

The setup is the classic one from a zombie movie, and even the behavior of the nice elderly people follows the rules of the undead, only with a little more tactical intelligence and awareness, necessary to counterbalance the fact that we are talking about very fragile people and not particularly mobile. The amount of violence, even gratuitous, is typically German: Old People it is a film so bad as to be at times unpleasant, pornographic in the way it stages the numerous murders that characterize it. It is a film of crushed skulls and creaking bones, of blunt objects that blunt the teeth of a poor woman who is perhaps not so poor, given how she treated her grandmother Agata.

It is a horror about the generational clash, the revolt of the forgotten: the metaphor is very easy and Andy Fetscher, screenwriter and director, stages it with all the delicacy of a wild boar thrown into a meat grinder. His film wants to be first of all a warning, even to himself since he was born in 1980: the war between old and young is about to arrive, he tells us Old Peopleand regardless of how it ends it will still leave several corpses on the ground.

old people

Netflix

It is a pity therefore that Andy Fetscher, screenwriter and director, does not have control of either of the two activities. Old People it lasts an hour and a half, yet it is still too long, stretched by endless soap opera scenes that arrive even at the least opportune moments. He has an idea (people in a house, zombie grandparents outside) but he can’t decide how he wants to use it, and so he runs around in circles for very long minutes. And it is a film that repeats itself over and over, when it would have done well to rely on the idea of ​​him without getting caught up in the temptation to wander, vary and philosophize.

In short, this is it Old People, a mediocre film and which perhaps would have needed the input of other people outside of its author to find a shape and a direction. And yet I can’t want him badly, even when he spits banality in my face: because he is anyway The night of the living grandparents, and because it is very bad and with no respect for the viewer or for good taste. It’s a punk movie, and since when do punk bands have to know how to play too?

Old People. or The night of the living grandparents