The German horror thriller film “Old People” is a very visual and direct reminder for our modern society to look after the elderly with care and compassion before it is too late. Presented with more visual gore than scares per se, this film tries to show what it might be like when it is too late, as hordes of old people swarm and attack every young human they can find. Although the idea or content is not something very new, the extent to which the film goes to put its point across does impress, and it is a good watch for those dedicated to the genre.
Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?
In a brief introductory scene to what is about to come, “Old People” begins with an old man listening to radio news announcements of a heat wave and a rise in temperatures all across Germany. A young woman who works as the old man’s nurse arrives at his house as per her everyday routine but feels strange about what she finds. The main door is left unlocked, and the man is not in his wheelchair. As she tries looking for him inside the apartment, the old man comes out of the shadows and kills his nurse with a heavy oxygen cylinder. Through a text foreword, the film also presents what it is about to deal with: a long time ago, old people were thought to have an avenging spirit in some of them, which would take full control of the weakest members and drive them into a seemingly blind rage against the world.
On one of the last few hot days of summer, Ella drives her car towards her native countryside village along with her two children—a teenager, Laura, and Noah, a young boy. They are about to attend the marriage ceremony of Ella’s sister Sanna, but the kids, especially Noah, are more excited about meeting their father and grandfather again. Ella had separated from her husband, Lucas, a few years back and had even had a huge argument over it with her own father, Aike, because he did not want her to get divorced. While Ella had moved to the city with her children, Lucas had stayed behind in the countryside and was now in a romantic relationship with a woman called Kim. After arriving at their old house, Sanna informs Ella and the kids that Aike has been put up at the local retirement house since both his daughters had settled in the city. The two sisters now decide to go to the place and bring their father back for the night’s celebrations, and they take Noah along. At the Saalheim retirement home, things look very odd to Ella as a number of old men and women sit around desolately with hardly anyone to look after them. They do find Kim, who happens to be a nurse and orderly at the place, and are taken to Aike, who does not say anything to Ella when she greets him, but tears roll down his cheeks. As the daughters tell their elderly father that they are here to take him away for the wedding, young Noah sees one of the old men looking at them in a sinister manner. Long after they are gone, after evening falls, this man rises up as a leader and rallies all the other old people to kill the orderlies in the retirement home and then walk towards the marriage ceremony.
Why Were The Old People Attacking All Of A Sudden?
The family has a great time at the marriage ceremony, and Noah and Laura almost force their parents to dance together to the tunes of their family song, a song that Lucas and Aike used to sing together during better times. It is understood that the major reason why Ella had left her husband was that she wanted to move to the city in search of a better lifestyle, and Lucas wanted to stay behind in the countryside as he preferred this life. Now that they are spending time together after so long, the estranged couple does get warm to each other, and this makes Kim extremely jealous. On their way back from the marriage at night, Kim and Lucas spot an old man from the retirement home out in an open field, and then, driving towards the village, they see a number of cars standing still on the road with dead people inside. In scenes resembling attacks during a zombie apocalypse, groups of vengeful elderly people are seen killing and biting into younger people who had been passing through the village, and they now chase Lucas too. Realizing that his family would need help, Lucas drives his car back to the country house, where attacks had already begun. After the end of the ceremony, the newlywed couple had retreated to a cabin close to the country house, where Sanna’s husband had prepared a romantic night for the two. As they get busy with each other, though, the old man, who was seen leading the attack at the old-age home, slips into their cabin and violently murders them with a heavy orb.
Ella wakes up inside the house late at night to the bellows and cries of the old people who have turned into vengeful beasts with supernatural strength and precision. Still unaware of this development, Ella goes looking for her children and finds Laura to be missing, until the young girl walks in with a shocked look on her face and tells her that old people have been gathering outside the house. Laura had been earlier shown having romantic moments of her own with her young lover, Alex, who had taken her to see a stone structure built in honor of the past generations, and on which Lucas and Ella had carved their love in their youthful days. Although she had realized the frailty of romantic relationships and grown sad about her parents’ separation at the time, she is taken over by fear for their safety at present. A knock on the door follows, and when Ella goes to check it out, she sees an old man who they had earlier met in the retirement home and who had mistaken Ella to be his daughter. Ella now goes over to the cabin and leaves Laura in charge of her younger brother and also the grandfather, Aike, who had started to eerily play the piano in the middle of the night. Going to the cabin, Ella finds Sanna and her husband dead, and she herself has to jump out of the window to escape a horde of old people. By the time she returns to her house, Aike and Noah have gone missing. By now, Lucas and Kim have also reached the house, and together they search for the missing boy.
The reason why the old people have been mounting their attack is connected to certain beliefs that have been mentioned in voiceover narrations earlier. The evil spirit that was believed to inhabit the elderly people in bygone eras was apparently enraged when a family had broken down and when old people in any family were neglected and abandoned. The abandonment and the neglect of the elderly are very clear in the film through the overcrowding in the retirement home and also the orderlies’ behavior towards the helpless old people. The reason why they had attacked the place of the marriage was that they had seen enough families and marriages break down to be enraged by it. Throughout the film, there is a fear among lovers that their love won’t last forever, as Sanna expresses to her husband on the very night of their marriage, and this fear turns to despise when the old people think of this same frailty of love and family. Despite their hatred towards the next generations, the old people still have a weak spot for their innocent grandchildren as well, as Noah comes back into the scene and reveals that he had been hiding in the attic where Aike had taken him and told him to hide, while Aike had gone out and joined the zombie-like horde gathering around the house.
Ultimately, the old people harm and kill everyone who has somehow broken families or expressed their doubts about love. The leader of the group had killed Sanna and her husband, possibly because they had discussed the prospect of their love failing at some time in the future. A similar fate awaits the rest of the characters as well, but not before Kim is also shown to be a selfish woman who does not mind sacrificing the children in order to win over Lucas completely. She had earlier expressed her doubts about whether Lucas was still in love with his ex-wife, and now she intentionally puts Laura into trouble. While Laura survives with the help of her parents, Kim manages to push Ella out of the house and lock the door behind her. Soon the old people attack Ella, and her children and ex-husband try their best to save her; seeing this brings a change in Kim’s mind. She is either won over by the selfless love that the family has for each other or realizes that she will have a horrible time in the hands of the old people once they get her, so she decides to sacrifice herself. Jumping out of the window, she lands in the middle of the old people’s horde, and as they attack her like distracted zombies, Ella is pulled inside the house and saved. The surviving family then makes use of an old tunnel built under the house leading to the nearby cabin, but the leader and his group of old people have broken into the house by now. Both Lucas and Ella had broken their respective bonds of love and their family, and therefore, “Old People” has no intention of letting them survive. Both of them have to protect the children from the attackers at certain points, and both ultimately sacrifice themselves to help Laura and Noah escape.
‘Old People’ Ending Explained: What Happens To Laura And Noah?
By the time the two children make their way out of the other side of the tunnel onto the now-empty cabin, the morning light has already broken. The mobile network seems to be back too, as Laura’s phone buzzes with new notifications about outbreaks of hostile old people across the country and then missed calls from her lover, Alex. She hurriedly calls the boy, and he tells her to meet him by the beach at the earliest, for they have to escape the place before old people kill them too. Taking Noah along with her, Alex leaves the house but is immediately stopped in her tracks by their grandfather, Aike. As she points a gun toward the man, the leader of the old men arrives and swiftly takes Laura down. He is about to kill Laura when the teenage girl shakily starts to sing their family song, and Noah joins her too. The leader’s hands shake as he struggles to control the knife in his hands, as another voiceover narration explains how the spirit residing in old people does not only curse those who break families but also is soothed and pleased by those who defend families. This is what happens here, and ultimately, Aike takes up the gun and kills the leader. He then directly speaks to his grandchildren, saying how much he loved them, and the three together make their way to the beach. The young Alex meets them there with a boat, and he hesitates a bit to let Aike get on the boat before probably trusting him as his lover’s family and pulling him on. As the four ride away on the boat, they see large hordes of zombie-like old people gathering on the beach.
In one last background narration, Laura says that she had later asked her grandfather whether there ever was a time when young people could have behaved better with the elderly in order to avoid the disastrous attacks of the present, and Aike replied that there must have been some days like that, although he does not remember that far back anymore. It further puts emphasis on the years and decades of mistreatment and abandonment that the elderly has been put through by the generations of present times. As noble as the main idea in “Old People” might be, the film is probably best taken at face value without much serious thought. If done so, then it has the potential to preach to younger generations that they should prioritize the well-being of their elders and family values much before individual betterment and personal choices, or else face the wrath of old-people zombies!
“Old People” is a 2022 Drama Thriller film directed by Andy Fetscher.