Aged (2023) Movie Review: Horror is a tricky genre to get right because it needn’t always be shot in a particular way or with stipulated markers to make people feel scared. The director has done a good job at it as long as it leaves the audience bound to their seats, unmoving, out of curiosity and fear. Written and directed by Anubys Lopez, his second feature film, Aged (2023), is trying to be a horror movie that has all it needs to make it a spine-tingling experience and yet falls short by a great degree.
The story begins with a very awkward meeting between Veronica ( played by Morgan Boss-Maltais) and Charles (Dave McClain) at a coffee shop. It is so awkward that it immediately made me wonder whether this was a date arranged via a dating app. However, Charles soon discloses that he is in desperate need of a caregiver for his mother, who is a dementia patient. Veronica takes some convincing to agree to take up this job, and Charles drives her out to the forlorn house in the middle of nowhere where his mother resides. As she starts taking care of Mrs. Bloom (played by Carla Kidd), strange incidents come to her notice. For example, the visit by Mrs. Bloom’s granddaughter, whom she later reveals to have been dead a long time now.
Simultaneously, a physical change starts to appear in Veronica – streaks of her hair are turning grey, and her skin is visibly starting to wrinkle. The gardener warns her about a secret around this house, one that Mrs. Bloom and Charles are actively involved in, but Veronica seems to be at a loss about it. Does she finally manage to learn the truth and escape from it? Lopez deflates our expectations from the ending – Kudos to him! – and brings us a story that is not scary (despite ardent efforts) but is sincerely intriguing.
The act of caregiving comes with the unspoken responsibility of being able to offer limitless empathy to another person or group of persons they are taking care of. It involves the act of relentlessly attending to someone else’s needs and prioritizing them over oneself at all times. I would have been happy to deduce that the ending of the movie ultimately draws upon the Sisyphean nature of the act of caregiving and the great mental exertion that it impacts. Perhaps this task’s effect is so great that the caregiver is transformed physically and mentally by the process. Unfortunately, the movie steers away from these themes by introducing token religiosity in a perfectly well-told tale.
When Veronica was offered the role of caregiver for a dementia patient, I was looking forward to witnessing the difficulty of the job. We are not told whether she is experienced or not, only that she may not be ready for a full-time responsibility. Around Mrs. Bloom, who suffers from a bout of dementia only once or twice for a few minutes in the movie, Veronica seems to have her hands full, especially as her despair to leave the place grows by the end. Yet nothing in the acting of Morgan Boss-Maltais is so desperate that it displays the difficulty of her time at the house.
Kidd, on the other hand, is equally mediocre as a senile old lady. I think Aged (2023) would have worked well had it not been for the unflattering performances of the leads and the unengaging dialogues by Lopez. The production cost is detectably low for the movie, so I don’t mind excusing the use of a dark-colored frothy liquid used to depict blood in the bathtub. However, I cannot excuse the amount of potential this movie had to become one of the better horror movies of the year, which lost due to its budget constraints and poor choice of actors.
I was, however, very intrigued by the movie, and I sat through it in one go wondering what mess naive Veronica may have gotten herself into. However, I am left with several questions, including ‘Who is the woman Veronica saw in the woods?’ and ‘What were they using to drug her to sleep?’ Aged (2023) is far from a perfect horror movie, yet if you are watching this, prepare to be gripped by the mystery that Lopez successfully builds and maintains until the last scene.