Review

Director Robert Eggers follows up The Witch with an even weirder offering with the wonderfully strange The Lighthouse.

A study of cabin fever and encroaching madness in a New England lighthouse towards the end of the 19th century, it finds new 'wickie' Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) arriving at the remote island with seasoned veteran Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe) for a four week stint.

Ephraim finds himself stuck with all the menial dirty tasks, while Thomas concentrates on the upkeep of the lamp (which seems to largely involve him basking naked in its glow).

This causes tension between the two, which is only exacerbated by Thomas's frequent flatulence, a hostile seagull seemingly intent on winding Ephraim up, the apparent hallucinations he starts to experience and the fact he appears to have dark secrets of his own. Unsurprisingly perhaps but the close quarters between two men in a tall, phallic-like object also results in a potent mix of machismo and homo-eroticism as the film progresses

Strikingly shot in inky black and white by The Witch Director of Photography Jarin Blaschke in the academy ratio which only heightens the sense of claustrophobia. Combined with effectively creepy music and sound design by Mark Korven and Damien Volpe respectively with impressive production design by Craig Lathrop and you have a film that feels and looks so grimly authentic that you can almost smell the brine and farts.

The duo of Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe are exceptional, really getting their teeth stuck into the era appropriate dialogue sourced by Robert and Max Eggers from the work of Herman Melville and the journals of genuine 19th century lighthouse keepers. Dafoe in particular relishing the maritime superstitions and curses that he barks at Pattinson with an enjoyable zeal.

Unsurprisingly not for everyone perhaps but for those with a love of the macabre and the absurd should find plenty to enjoy here.

By Kevin Knapman



The Lighthouse (15)

1h 49m

Director: Robert Eggers

UK Release: 31st January 2020
US Release: 1st November 2019




The Lighthouse - "The World" Featurette

The Lighthouse - "Dance, Winslow!" Clip