Didn't resonate with me
- The Lighthouse review by NP
I’ve long since wanted to see ‘The Lighthouse’. A slow burning story, with elements of Lovecraft and David Lynch, featuring two powerful actors in an isolated, secluded location sounds exactly my kind of horror.
I’m glad I have seen it. It satisfied my curiosity about what the director of 2015’s terrific ‘The Witch’ would do next. Sadly, as a film, it failed to make any connection with me, or I with it. It isn’t a bad production – the images are stark and beautifully filmed in black and white. The acting, mainly from Robert Pattinson and William Defoe, is intense and convincing – but I couldn’t detect any real emotion, other than the rage that comes with being cooped up with another.
The direction clearly wants to provide us with weird and unsettling images, which it does, but that only goes so far when there isn’t any kind of story, or development, going on – other than bouts of madness, which manifests itself in moments of screaming violence.
Despite everything, all I could see were two men, neither of whom are particularly likeable, shouting at each other, fighting or indulging in grubby personal habits. There are some interesting moments, mostly toward the end, but ultimately, there was nothing here I found frightening in any way. Nor did I find anything funny, or witty or particularly satisfying.
I won’t slate the film because I can see it was well made and performed. It just didn’t have any resonance with me personally. As such, I just found it rather dull and noisy. My score is 3 out of 10.
9 out of 13 members found this review helpful.
Gloomy and dire
- The Lighthouse review by DM
I am afraid I have to disagree with the other reviews of this film.
I found it very gloomy, dire and did'nt enjoy it at all, in fact I struggled to stay with it until the end.
In my opinion it was a waste of a rental, don't bother unless you like boring films.
6 out of 12 members found this review helpful.
Gripping and original
- The Lighthouse review by PD
This one probably isn’t for you if you’re after a ‘conventional’ drama / horror / gothic (insert genre of choice) film, but I found it totally gripping, largely due to Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson’s mesmerising and deliberately unnerving performances. Director Robert Eggers’ stark black-and-white cinematography emphasises every bony plane, every facial crease, hollow and pinprick of stubble to great effect.
At its heart is a psychological study of two lighthouse workers, Wake (Dafoe) and Winslow (Pattinson), who, over many solitary days and nights, work, eat, drink and dig at each other, establishing a bristling antagonism. In time, their minds and tongues are loosened by alcohol and, perhaps, a simple human need for companionship. The wind howls, the camera prowls, the sea roars and Eggers flexes his estimable filmmaking technique as an air of mystery rapidly thickens. Much as he did in the distinctly creepy ‘The Witch’ with its isolated family of fundamentalists coming unglued in early 17th-century America, Eggers makes the secluded world in “The Lighthouse” at once recognisable and eerily surreal. Wake is the veteran keeper of the lighthouse flame, the guardian of its traditions, language and superstitions (‘never, ever, kill a seagull’, he instructs). He barks orders, sings a shanty, indulges in sentimentality, and is, depending on the mood / time of day, either (seemingly) friendly or (more usually) distinctly threatening. To Winslow’s mounting irritation, Wake also guards the key to the lantern room, and it’s this obsession (Moby Dick style), driven by the demon drink (and eventually kerosene), that becomes what gradually poisons Winslow’s mind, although what ultimately is the source of the madness is deliberately ambiguous. Getting stuck in this place with the company is enough in itself to drive anyone to distraction of course, but the film also hints that our unreliable narrator was never of sound mind even before arriving on the island. The past clearly weighs on Ephraim from the start, with his dreams about drowning under logs at the beginning of the film, whilst later, during his most unhinged moments, he sees flashes of a man killed; as Wake guesses, Ephraim definitely took this awful and secluded job because he's on the run, but as he soon discovers, he can't outrun the prison of his own guilty conscience.
It's also possible of course that both Thomas and Ephraim are having a shared delusion, or we can see Thomas and Ephraim as representing two parts of the same person. There are also subtle and not-so-subtle hints that Wake is deliberately pushing Ephraim into insanity after hearing of how his last wickie died - Thomas could've murdered him or driven him to take his own life. All readings (and more) are possible.
There’s some weaknesses – the Freudian/Jungian symbolism is laid on with a trowel, with endless vaginal keyholes and phallic tools and logs and whatnot, whilst I found the ending, with its blindingly obvious (no pun intended) allusions to the Proteus/Prometheus myth all a bit heavy-handed (I’d got that already; surely it didn’t need to be hammered home in this way?), and for me rather detracted from what had gone before. Nevertheless, taken as a whole, an engaging and original piece.
2 out of 6 members found this review helpful.