The Lighthouse (2019)

the lighthouse poster 2019 movie
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 10/10

Actor and visually driven

Plot is largely interpretive and could leave some people wanting more

Movie Info

Movie Name: The Lighthouse

Studio:  A24

Genre(s):  Horror/Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s): May 19, 2019 (Cannes)/October 18, 2019 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

the lighthouse willem dafoe robert pattison drinking

Drinking the night away…drinking the night away!

It is bad luck to kill a seabird. On an isolated New England island, Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) has just started as a lighthouse keeper assistant for an old tar wickie named Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe). Winslow quickly finds out that being an assistant means hard labor, braving the elements, and facing the harsh environment of the island. When the scheduled trade-out is scrapped due to a brewing storm on the coast, Winslow is going to learn that there are things to fear in the isolation and darkness.

Directed by Robert Eggers (who wrote the script with his brother Max Eggers), The Lighthouse is a psychological horror movie. The film started as a loose adaptation of Edgar Alan Poe’s unfinished work “The Light-House” but evolved into piece independent of the work. The film premiered at Cannes was well received by critics. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography.

the lighthouse turpentine honey alcohol robert pattinson willem dafoe

We all go a little crazy sometimes…

Robert Egger’s The Witch was a surprising and fun horror movie that smartly used slow-burning horror to deliver a punch. I was excited to see his film The Lighthouse. While I enjoyed the film, I am the first to admit that not everyone will. The stylistic slow-burn of The Witch is even slower and more obtuse here…and going into the movie expecting a coherent, tight horror thriller could lead to disappointment.

The story is largely unstructured and interpretive. You don’t learn much about the characters that is 100% true and what you do learn could all be false. The story has the unbalanced Ephraim Winslow (or really Thomas Howard) quickly descending into madness…a little too quickly for my liking. I wish that the timeline on the stint at the Lighthouse was a little clearer and the descent into madness was a bit slower…it hits fast and hard. This leads to a lot delusions and illusions and an ending where you aren’t exactly sure what is happening in Winslow’s mind and what is happening in reality.

the lighthouse willem dafoe naked robert pattison beach shot

If nothing else, this visual is amazing…

The acting is top notch. Pattinson is often put down due to his involvement in the sparkly romance vampire Twilight films, but I think he’s proven himself multiple times since those films. I do have some issues with his character’s accent which doesn’t seem to always be there (and gets pretty heavy by the end). Dafoe is great as the stereotypical sea captain-old salt Maine man who runs the lighthouse. His thick drawl and accent nails it and almost seems like a parody…but it all could be if the film is from Pattinson’s perception.

The visuals are also perfect. Eggers stylized the film in the stark black-and-white style which gives it the weight of an Ingmar Bergman film and emphasizes the psychology of the characters.  Scenes like the vision scenes, and Robert Pattinson being stared into by a naked Willem Dafoe are completely captivating.  The film also isn’t shot widescreen which gives a strange, claustrophobic feeling that also feels a bit more private and intimate…leading to more horror.

The Lighthouse is a great psychological thriller that is character and visually driven instead of plot driven. This will be problematic for many, and I could see people angry that they sat through the movie expecting more in the way of traditional, modern horror films. The movie feels like classic Gothic horror that crawls and grows…like A Turn of the Screw but on crack. Enter The Lighthouse in the right mindset if you hope to get chills from it.

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The 92nd Academy Award Nominations

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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