Robert Eggers burst on to the horror scene in 2015 with his brilliant feature debut The Witch and it has been a lengthy wait for his second film. But now he’s back with his new psychological horror The Lighthouse, a black an white tale of two lighthouse keepers who slowly descend into madness in their solitude on their isolated island.
The Lighthouse is the exact kind of film that you want to go in knowing as little about as possible, and just be caught up in Eggers’ brilliant vision. He creates a feeling of dread almost immediately with his use of sound, as the regular bellowing of the lighthouse’s horn puts you on edge a little. The design of the small island and the lighthouse add to the feeling of isolation and solitude, which only further that feeling of dread that Eggers is creating. As the film goes on his direction is incredible, deftly managing the strange horror tone with a healthy dose of dark comedy that I really wasn’t expecting going in.
The only two performers with any meaningful screen time are Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe. Pattinson plays plays Ephraim Winslow a young man who takes on the job to work the lighthouse under the supervision of Dafoe’s older wickie, Thomas Wake. Dafoe’s performance grabs you right from the off as an irritable and cantankerous man, probably the most salty seaman since Quint from Jaws. Pattinson by comparison spends much of the film giving a more withdrawn and reserved performance, but as the film descends into madness he goes toe to toe with Dafoe, and gives an equally as brilliant performance.
The Lighthouse is a truly remarkable film from Eggers. Technically it is a marvel. And as study of the effects of isolation and solitude on these two men it is riveting and beautiful insane. Whilst many will probably come out hating the film, but for those willing to dive in it is a glorious and unique experience.