Old People Plot Synopsis
Old People isn’t the first horror movie to feature senior citizens as the antagonists, as you will already know if you have seen such movies as M. Night Shyamalan’s The Visit, Ti West’s X, or Adam Robitel’s The Taking of Deborah Logan.
But German-Romanian director Andy Fetscher’s new movie Old People is quite different to what has come before as this is as much a lesson on the importance of elderly care as it is a bloodthirsty horror movie. And if the characters in the movie don’t heed this lesson?
These words during the opening credits give a forewarning of what is to come:
“In times of yore, an avenging spirit was thought to inhabit old people. A dark power that took possession of the frailest members of the clan.”
The purpose of this spirit? That becomes clear later in the movie but in the opening segment, we get to meet frail old Mr. Reinke who is sitting in the bedroom of his apartment. He is visited by a young woman who acts as his nurse but before she can carry out her caring duties, the elderly gentleman brutally attacks her with his oxygen cylinder and eventually kills her.
Has the avenging spirit inhabited him? It would appear so and not only Mr. Reinke but other elderly people within the local community too.
This is bad news for Ella, her teenage daughter Laura, and her youngest son Noah, who return to their hometown for Ella’s sister’s wedding. After the ceremony has ended, their time of jubilation is brought to an end when rampaging old people attack them.
Do Ella and her family survive? Or do they meet an untimely end at the hands of the bloodthirsty seniors? Let’s take a closer look at the movie.
Are the family glad to be back in their hometown?
The family are excited about returning to their hometown, not only because Ella’s sister Sanna is getting married but because they will have the opportunity to catch up with other faces from their past. These include Lukas, Ella’s estranged husband and the father of Laura and Noah; Aike, Ella’s father and grandfather to the two kids; and Alex, Laura’s former boyfriend.
When the family arrive in town they meet up with Sanna and her fiance. During this happy reunion, Sanna tells them that Aike was moved into a retirement home when they left the town for life elsewhere. After hearing this news, Ella, Sanna, and Noah visit the home to bring Aike back home for the ceremony.
On arrival at the home, Ella is shocked to see how understaffed the place is and how appalling the conditions are for the old people who live there. While there, Ella meets Kim, her former husband’s new partner, who is working as an orderly at the home. She then finds Aike sitting alone and unresponsive. When she apologises for leaving him behind, he recognises her and begins to cry. She then takes Aike out of the dreadful place to prepare him for Sanna’s wedding.
Meanwhile, Laura is enjoying her reunion with Alex and they take a trek into the woods. While here, Alex shows Laura an ancient stone structure that was built as a reminder to the town’s families that they should stay together to avoid the curse that would fall on them if they abandoned their elders. As becomes apparent, this curse isn’t simply a myth as the abandoned old people of this town are about to be empowered by a vengeful spirit that wants to strike back at the neglectful community.
Does the wedding go well?
The family have a great time at the wedding as it gives them time to be with the people they previously left behind. The only person who appears to be unhappy is Kim who seems jealous when Lukas and Ella dance together at the reception.
As the celebrations go on, the old people at the retirement home are seen listening to the music at the reception. They are clearly unhappy at being neglected and, after one of the seniors causes a power cut by biting into an electric cord, they start to go on a murderous rampage and kill the orderlies that are supposed to be looking after them.
Following this traumatic event, one of the seniors rallies the other old people together and leads them towards the house where the reception is happening. Unfortunately, they have more on their mind than the wedding cake!
What happens after the wedding reception?
The wedding reception ends on a happy note but it’s not long before people start to realise bad things are happening elsewhere in the village. Lukas and Kim are among the first to notice this as, on their journey home, they see the old people carrying out their murderous rampage. Sanna and her new husband also become aware of the geriatric terror when they are attacked and killed by the senior leader while consummating their marriage at their woodland cabin.
Later, Ella wakes up at home when she hears the noise of the old people outside. She is puzzled at what is happening and leaves Laura in charge of Aike and Noah while she heads out to investigate.
She travels to Sanna’s cabin and is horrified to find the body of her sister and her betrothed. She doesn’t hang around for long as the elderly start to pursue her, one of whom is wearing Sanna’s wedding dress. Ella manages to make it back to the house in one piece and arrives at the same time as Kim and Lukas. Worryingly, Aike and Noah have since gone missing so they all start to look for the pair.
Where are Aike and Noah?
Ella and Lukas discover Aike is now with the rampaging old people outside. Ella accuses him of taking Noah but we later discover Aike had hidden Noah in the attic to ensure he remained safe. As such, it is clear that Aike isn’t as bloodthirsty as the other seniors that are out for revenge against the community members who abandoned them.
Do Ella and her family survive the night?
While Ella is outside with Lukas, some of the old people invade the house where Laura and Kim are finding shelter. Kim is no help to Laura, however, as instead of protecting the teenager, Kim averts their attention to the frightened young girl. Thankfully, Ella and Lukas arrive just in time to save their daughter from the geriatric leader and they subdue him and tie him up with tape.
Ella then points a gun at the old man while Lukas questions him about Noah’s whereabouts. The elderly man replies:
“What do you see? A human being or an animal? You don’t know what we have seen in our all too brief lives. I’d rather die than continue living like an animal.”
This highlights the point that the filmmakers are trying to make: Old people are sometimes treated like animals instead of human beings.
Noah then appears from his hiding place. But before they can all play a game of ‘happy families’ together, Kim, who is jealous of Ella, attacks her partner’s former wife and locks her out of the house.
Lukas and the children realise what Kim has done and they try to save Ella before she is killed by the old people outside. After witnessing the selfless love that Lukas has for Ella, Kim then decides to fall from an upstairs window, presumably because she has lost the will to live after sensing a possible betrayal. Or it might be that she is trying to distract the old people with her sacrifice so that Lukas and his family can be saved.
If Kim’s intention was to save Lukas, her plan doesn’t work. The family are able to retreat into the house for temporary safety but Lukas is injured in the geriatric attack and shortly after, dies from his wounds.
As the old people are still trying to break into the house, Laura suggests they use a hidden tunnel that leads from the house to Sanna’s cabin. Ella and her kids enter the passageway but while her children manage to escape to safety, she is dragged backwards and killed by the bloodthirsty retirees.
Thankfully, Laura and Noah manage to make it out of the tunnel alive. Upon getting a wifi connection, Laura’s phone is suddenly abuzz with notifications from Alex about a countrywide attack by the elderly. She then calls Alex and asks him to meet them at the beach.
But before she and Noah can flee to him, they are confronted by the senior leader. The old man attacks Laura but when she starts to sing her old family song, the geriatric menace is forced to stop in his tracks, presumably because the song is about family unity, which the spirit controlling him is in agreement with. Aike starts to cry when he hears the song and then saves his grandchildren by shooting the leader.
Laura, Noah, Alike and Alex are then able to escape the island on the boat that Alex has obtained. As they ride away, the old people remain on the beach, once again abandoned by the people of the village.
What is the meaning of the movie?
The movie’s underlying theme is the abuse of the elderly. We shouldn’t treat our seniors like animals and we shouldn’t consider them a burden and abandon them. This is a message we should all take heed of.
In the real world, it’s unlikely that old people will rise up and attack us as a result of the way they have been treated so we don’t have to worry about a geriatric apocalypse anytime soon.
But in the movie, the spirit that affected the old people was a symbol of the anger and hurt that collectively caused them to rise up and take revenge on those who abandoned them.
Read More: Old People Movie Review