LAST week I made my long-awaited return to the pictures. I was hoping I was going to see a masterpiece. A film that would leave me feeling profoundly moved and deepen my love of cinema. Instead I saw an incredibly bad film. But I loved every second of it.

The film in question was ‘Old’ the new one from M. Night Shyamalan. Known for his outlandish twist endings and somewhat hit and miss back catalogue, this film was either going to be amazing or awful, there would be no in between. It was the latter.

It’s a film about a beach that makes you age really fast, which should have been my first clue as to what lay ahead. The people sitting behind my girlfriend and I coughed the whole way through and made jokes about covid, other people spoke constantly, the rustling of packets of sweeties and open-mouthed popcorn chewing was a cacophony.

If I’d known it was going to be like that I wouldn’t have went, that is essentially my worst nightmare. But, somehow, I had an amazing time. It was so class.

I’ve been to see bad films at the pictures before and not enjoyed it. I’ve been tempted to walk out more than a few times but have never done it, mostly because I want to at least get my money’s worth. But this was different.

Perhaps it was just the novelty of going back after over a year away but I found there was something very cathartic about the whole thing. I’d watched a very arty, intellectual film at home the night before, which went a bit over my head, so this kind of film was exactly what I was after. Something daft and easy to follow. Something I could just switch my brain off and let it wash over me. What I got was even better.

Seeing something so laughably bad on the big screen is a brilliant experience. Sometimes if you watch something amazing you go, ‘God, I wish I could make something as good as that.’ There’s also a hint of jealousy in that, cursing this far more talented person for their incredible skill. But when you watch something bad, you maybe think to yourself, ‘I could do better than that.’ It makes you feel better about yourself. It’s made me want to go out and create the worst story I possibly could just to see if I could get it to the point of being so bad it’s funny. (‘I’ve read your books, pal. You’ve already done that,’ I hear some of you say.)

Things that are bad – films, telly programmes, books etc – can normally be divided into two camps; This is so bad it’s annoyed me that I’ve wasted time on it or this is so bad that it’s funny. ‘Old’ was so bad it was funny. I don’t know whether it was bad acting, bad writing or whatever but it was all terrible.

It was the kind of film where you feel everyone involved probably had a great time making it, like they were all in on the joke of it being bad on purpose, and they wouldn’t care that that’s what people thought of it. That kind of thing can turn a truly bad film into one that’s still bad but you enjoy nonetheless.

It’s amazing to be able to turn to someone during what’s supposed to be a very serious or touching moment in a bad film with a wry smile to see they’re trying to suppress a laugh as well. Shaking your heads together as a ridiculous bit of dialogue is delivered in a weird way is brilliant.

The fact my fellow cinema-goers also seemed to all think the same thing meant they all seemed to just chill out and have a laugh while the film played. I’ve been feeling quite numb over the last few months, maybe the last year, emotionally.

Not really feeling any kind of highs and lows, just existing in a state of perpetual ambivalence and I felt like seeing this film shook me right out if it. Everything I’ve watched in the last year, I’ve just went away feeling, ‘och, that was awrite, I suppose.’

It was nice to actually feel something again. My annoyance at other people in the screening quickly dissipated as I realised I’d slipped out of my constant boring neutral mood and stopped being an emotionless robot. The people behind me coughing and possibly spraying covid all over us? What a laugh. The sound of rustling and chewing? Quality, I’m glad everyone enjoyed themselves. The film being bad? Not a disappointment, I enjoyed myself anyway. I’m a new man.

Perhaps the fact I didn’t have a terrible time was maybe a bigger plot twist than anything yer man Shyamalan has ever done.