Would you ever put your grandparents into a retirement home? Consider this question when watching “Old People,” a German horror film released on Netflix earlier this month. As the film begins, you are confronted with an old man who seems unhappy in his living situation. This is followed by biblical pictures and verses about respecting the elderly. You’ll start questioning whether elderly people are treated like humans or caged animals.
In this town, there are too many old people and too few younger generations to help take care of them. A mother and her two children come into the town not knowing what danger awaits them. Ella (Melika Foroutan) drives her son and daughter, Noah (Otto Emil Koch) and Laura (Bianca Nawrath), to her hometown, where she grew up with her sister and father. Her ex-husband Lukas (Stephan Luca) still resides in town with his girlfriend, Kim (Anna Unterberger), who works in the retirement home.
Ella learns that her sister, Sanna (Maxine Kazis), put their father in the retirement home and Sanna brings her there only to show how overrun the facility is. It is messy, disarrayed and eerily quiet. There are very few nurses and workers inside and even fewer who truly respect the elderly. Noah searches for his grandfather, Aike (Paul Fassnacht), and finds him in a room full of unhappy old people whose families have not visited them in years. The facility feels like a cage rather than a home. A dangerous old man, known as Alpha, is jealous because Aike’s family is visiting him. Once Ella, Noah and Laura leave the retirement home with Aike to celebrate Sanna’s wedding, all hell breaks loose.
The collective mindset of the old people instantly changes from helplessness to rage. They develop a mob mentality, and they’re determined to get revenge for the way they’ve been treated. Since Alpha is the group’s leader, he leads them to the family house where Ella and Lukas once lived with their kids and Aike. Ella makes poor decisions by being impatient while Lukas tries to understand what is happening with the old people. Kim is the caretaker for these old people, but she is terrified of what they can do and makes a split-second decision that angers everyone around her.
While chaos ensues, Ella ignores every warning that Aike has given her to protect everyone. Although Aike is in this hive mind, he retains his feelings for his family, showing that he still has humanity, although he’s still treated as a monster. The characters’ poor decisions lead somewhere I never would have expected, though I was too absorbed by the film to make a prediction. Sit down and buckle up for the ride if you want to see how this movie ends. Prepare yourself to be shaken to your core by its message.
If you’re interested in watching “Old People,” I suggest you have friends or someone you know with you during this gruesome and gory film. When I first started watching the movie, I was thoroughly shocked by how terrifying some of the scenes were and how scary the elderly could be as an effect of their knowledge and everything they have suffered through. By the film’s end, I was thoroughly shaken by the beauty, dread and anxiety. I would have never imagined I would be screaming at the television, encouraging the family to save themselves. This film is definitely worth watching as it is horrifying with a meaningful message behind it. Elderly people deserve to be treated like humans, not animals.
“Old People” is streaming on Netflix.
By Ayla Hooper