Luke McWilliams gives his review of the psychological horror film, The Lighthouse, directed by Robert Eggers and starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson.
In the late 19th Century, young contractor Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) arrives by boat on an isolated island off the coast of New England, to serve under irritable old lighthouse keeper Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe) for a month.
Director Robert Eggers’ directorial debut was the excellent The Witch; a slow-paced, period psychological horror, unapologetic in its pacing and authentic language. The unfolding of the story, and of the dread, was neatly and organically matched with its increasingly surreal aspects and metaphor: the consequences of turning your back on religion in an unholy and unforgiving frontier land.
Conversely, The Lighthouse is madcap, as if Withnail and I were on holiday by mistake … again. Trapped in a lighthouse on an isolated island in an growing squall, our two male lighthouse workers are constrained in a near-perfect square ratio shot in beautiful squid-ink black and white. The claustrophobia is palpable, as is the rising tension between these two unlikely roommates: the young Winslow is restless and ambitious, the elderly Wake cagey and suspicious.
The movie rocks along with high-highs and low-lows with hard crashes of (are they?) Lovecraftian hallucinations as both men’s sanity ise pushed to the limits. With all the intrigue as to what is actually happening on our island, it is easy to forget that the movie is a two-hander.
Verdict: Some knowledge of Greek mythology is required for the full effect of the movie’s punch. A madcap dark-comedy horror.
The Lighthouse – 3.5 stars.