Direction: Robert Eggers
The Lighthouse is a super well crafted psychological thriller set in a remote island of West England in the late 19th century. The film stars Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson as two lighthouse keepers whose disturbed souls clash as their minds grow insane.
Directed by The Witch’s Robert Eggers, who co-wrote the screenplay with his brother Max, this is a churning examination on isolation and derangement that moves tenaciously toward complete annihilation. It’s also an unparalleled showcase for the two actors, whose characters might cause a certain disturbance in unprepared viewers due to their graceless posture and crude behavior. The aptly tense dialogue is not devoid of humor and the salty, dreary landscape is expertly captured by the sharp lens of cinematographer Jarin Blaschke, who was able to increase discomfort all around.
Dafoe is Thomas Wake, an old limping sea wolf whose prepotency is flagrant. He is in charge of the lighthouse and can’t help demeaning, screaming and sneering at his newly arrived aid, Ephraim Winslow, majestically interpreted by Pattinson. With the tediousness affecting the notion of time and the alcohol fueling their darker sides, are these men capable of regaining the control of themselves?
Secrets and torments, symbolism and omens, obsession and mystification are all ingredients of a cinematic invention that, at times, evoke the physical exertions of Kaneto Shindo’s The Naked Island, the unsettling surrealism of Luis Buñuel, and the dramatic severity of Ingmar Bergman.
Bolstered by the vigorous performances, a great sound design, and the mind-expanding black-and-white imagery, Eggers assembles a legitimate, weirdly fascinating pitch-dark horror picture that spirals beyond human comprehension.