Film Review | The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse
The Lighthouse

Plot: Two lighthouse keepers try to maintain their sanity whilst living on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s – The Lighthouse.

Director – Robert Eggers

Starring: Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe

Genre: Drama/Fantasy/Horror

Released: January 2020

From the first shot of the opening sequence, you know you’re about to watch something unique, transporting you back to the early days of cinema, when directors were still experimenting with how a movie should work. It takes several minutes of waves, seagulls and horns before any word is spoken. Using black & white and a square aspect ratio giving the film a dated but also dreamlike and distinct vintage feel.

It’s easy to see that writer-director Robert Eggers’ has a unique vision for his films, with his last feature film The Witch being equally out there in terms of look and feel. Clearly, he isn’t afraid to experiment with film conventions to produce a film that challenges the audience, with the use of period realistic vocabulary once again making an appearance, this time found using actual journals from lighthouse keepers.

The Lighthouse
The Lighthouse

The plot is relatively straightforward, and the setting is quite simplistic, but this doesn’t mean The Lighthouse isn’t interesting, with both plot and setting combining to create one of the more interesting looks into what happens to two men when detached from civilisation for a prolonged period.

From the very beginning, the film has a claustrophobic and almost insufferable feeling, no matter if the characters are inside one of the tiny lighthouse rooms, living quarters or outside on the desolate and unwelcoming and remote island.

The Lighthouse
The Lighthouse

The ever-present sound of crashing waves and seagulls also helps to create a feeling of unease and foreboding that seems inescapable.

Visually, the film looks great and completely different to other films that have been come out recently in either black & white or had black & white versions released such as Mad Max: Fury Road and Logan, both the cinematography and the black-and-white aesthetic remind me of the work of Ingmar Bergman and wouldn’t surprise me if Eggers took inspiration from Bergman’s work, namely a personal favourite of mine The Seventh Seal which also used shots of the oceanic to great effect and creates a haunting tone.

The Lighthouse
The Lighthouse

Given that film centres around two actors for the entire plot, well three if you count the seagull, it’s only right I touch on the excellent work both Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson did to keep the audience in suspense throughout.

It is really quite fascinating to see each of them experience outbursts of both frustration and loneliness, trapped on this godless island. It’s hard to remember a bad performance Defoe has put in over the years and once again he gives it his all as the experienced lighthouse keeper who speaks like Captain Ahab, but it’s Pattinson who once again proves the doubters wrong and more than holds his own as the former lumberjack turned apprentice lighthouse keeper, filled with suppressed anger and secrets hiding just below the surface.

In conclusion, with its interesting look and authentic language, this film is most assuredly not for everyone, but for those of you who enjoy a director doing something different to elevate a simple plot to a higher level, The Lighthouse is well worth checking out, especially if you also enjoy a good dose of psychological horror such as myself.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

If you liked – Lord of the Flies, The Invitation, Midsommar

IMDB

22 comments

  1. mm I heard something about this movie, but still didn’t have a chance to watch it, but seems like it is a must have. thanks for reminder

  2. This looks like a really great flick. I can’t believe it already came out and I had never heard of it.

  3. I haven´t seen this movie yet, but both Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson are so talented! It´s gonna be a masterpiece for sure!

  4. I’ve heard a lot of good things about this movie from the wedding was filled to the way the characters are developed so I think I will see it soon

  5. This is absolutely my kind of a movie. Thanks for the review. I am not going to miss it. Eager to see how they cope up with their challenge.

  6. sounds like such an awesome movie! maybe for our next movie night in!

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