Old Man (2022) Movie Explained: A Haunting Exploration of Guilt


Old Man is a character driven psychological thriller crafted with superb performances and masterful direction.

old man (2022) movie explained
TitleOld Man (2022)
GenreHorror, Thriller
DirectorLucky McKee
Release DateOctober 14, 2022
ActorsStephen Lang, Marc Senter, Liana Wright-Mark, Patch Darragh
Rating3 out of 5

Old Man (2022) Movie Summary

The enigmatic ‘Old Man’ (2022) commences with a deliberate pan, unveiling a solitary cabin nestled deep within the woods. An unnamed old man, portrayed by Stephen Lang, awakens from his restless slumber in vivid red one piece pajamas, calling out for ‘Rascal.’

The isolation is interrupted by the arrival of Joe, a young hiker brought to life by Marc Senter, who is knocking on the cabin’s door claiming to be lost in the wilderness. The old man hesitantly greets him with skepticism, pointing his shotgun at him as he subjects Joe to a barrage of questions like  “how do I know you’re not a psycho killer?” and “are you a salesman?”. Going further, the old man demands to know what’s in Joe’s backpack, rifling through it, discovery a formidable hunting knife that Joe declares is for self defense.

Joe’s discomfort grows and he attempts an escape, only to be met with a shotgun blast at his feet that forcibly halts his exit. Settling into swapping stories, a complex tapestry of their lives unfolds. Joe reminisces about fishing with his grandfather in these same mountains as a boy. The old man recounts a visit by an unexpected Bible salesman that involves drugging his coffee and tying him to a burning stove to see if he is a true believer, all the while the bible salesman fervently recites the Hail Mary begging for mercy.

Joe and the old man share a toast to ‘Death and Beauty’, prompting more intimate confessions as they become more relaxed. Joe unveils the cracks in his marriage to Genie, marked by the inability to conceive and a stark class divide which leads Joe to feelings of inadequacy. Meanwhile, the old man reveals he also has marital issues, stating “she figured out how to really hurt a man”.  You are beginning to get an understanding of where this movie is heading.

At this point Joe is recanting stories, and the old man is finishing his sentences, as if he is remembering them too.  You begin to figure out all is definitely not what it seems.

Here is where the film veers into surreal territory. The old man tells of his search for a purple lake that is known to have mystical powers of healing. While searching, he followed the sounds of moans to find the lake, where he comes face to face with a mountain lion, who he kills by stabbing in the neck with a sharp rock. The lion’s head now serves as a haunting sentinel within the cabin, its penetrating gaze ever watchful over the old man.

At some point, Joe discreetly goes over to his sheathed knife, slips it out to see its covered in blood, prompting him to confess to the old man that “things didn’t end well” with his wife Genie. As the old man prepares food, he unwittingly allows Joe to slip away. In his stead emerges ‘Rascal,’ cloaked in black and bearing an animal carcass, unleashing a barrage of taunts that send the old man into a paralyzing fear. The old man whimpers concern about Joe, only to be met with Rascal’s cryptic refrain, ‘it’s always the same words with you.’

Rascal gradually unravels the truth to the old man, disclosing it is he, the old man, who wandered and got lost in the woods, driven by remorse for ‘what he did.’ He presents the old man with water from the enigmatic purple lake, urging him into a massive travel trunk. After getting in, he opens the lid to find himself transported to his former home, confronted with pictures on the wall of his younger self as Joe, alongside his wife. He follows haunting moans down the hallway, coming to a bedroom door, revealing his wife engaged in a passionate encounter with the Bible salesman. Consumed by hatred and fury, he shoots the bible salesman in the head as he prays for mercy and stabs his wife in the neck.

The film poignantly depicts the old man’s desperate plea for forgiveness to his wife, juxtaposed with her denial, leaving him forever burdened by the weight of his guilt.

‘Old Man’ (2022) delves deep into the realms of guilt and its aftermath, weaving a haunting narrative that lingers long after the credits roll.

Directing / Acting / Writing

Having become a big fan of director Lucky McKee after watching his cult horror movie classic “May”, I was expecting a certain level of uniqueness and artistic brilliance. Being that this was a low budget film shot over a 15 day period with 2 main actors in one location, Lucky McKee delivered. Old Man was eerie and engaging, keeping your attention until the end. Yes, its a slow burn, but its effective and very well done.

Stephen Lang can be over the top as the “crazy” ranting old man, but it serves his character perfectly. He is convincing and captivating, which is essential in this two man act. Marc Senter has a unique acting style, at times it works well here, other times it seems a bit over acted. With that said, it was overall a convincing delivery. Although only having a very small part in the film, the wife played by Liana Wright-Mark delivered a haunting memorable portrayal that leaves a lasting impression.

The screenplay written by Joel Veach’s was thoughtful and smart. The dialogue was a bit strange in parts, but was not overly distracting. His writing paired well with Lucky McKees directing style.

Ending Explained

This movie offers viewers a rich tapestry of interpretations, ultimately centering on the theme of guilt and its profound impact on the psyche of the old man.

Within the narrative, three distinct iterations of the same character emerge: Joe, Rascal, and the Old Man.

Joe symbolizes the young man, deeply scarred by his wife’s betrayal and the brutal murders he committed. He remains trapped in a state of denial, unable to fully confront the grim reality of his actions.

Rascal embodies the middle aged man who has endured years of living with the weight of his wife and lover’s murders, wrestling daily with the unrelenting burden of guilt and its far reaching consequences. Over time, this grim reality has toughened him, enabling him to confront the complexities of love, betrayal, and death.

The Old Man, potentially grappling with senility or persistent denial, has constructed elaborate narratives to shield himself from the harsh truths of his past. In this alternate reality, he seeks refuge from the relentless grip of guilt and regret. However, Joe and Rascal persistently haunt him, refusing to let him escape the consequences of his actions. The piercing gaze of the mountain lion serves as a potent metaphor for his wife, a constant reminder of his guilt that looms over him without respite. There is no sanctuary from the unyielding forces of remorse, regret, and the indelible burden of guilt, all of which he must endure day after day, in a continual loop.

Worth Watching?

Old Man is a deliberately paced psychological thriller that may not cater to every taste. If you crave constant action and are easily restless, this film might not be for you. However, if you appreciate character driven indie cinema, crafted with superb performances and masterful direction, then ‘Old Man’ is an excellent watch. Dive into its enigmatic narrative and craft your interpretation of the story. We invite you to share your thoughts in the comments below!

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (out of 5)





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