Director Robert Eggers and film production powerhouse A24 don’t just refuse to miss their mark, they simply are unable to. That is lesson No. 1 while watching Eggers new period set, ocean-loving masterpiece, “The Lighthouse.”
“The Lighthouse,” set in late-1800s New England, is a story of two lighthouse-keepers both named Thomas.
The younger has a secret he intends to keep to the grave, but no one is sure if he will ever truly make it there. There’s a strong love hate relationship with seagulls (it’s a surefire way to piss off the god of the sea if you mess with
them), an abundance of whiskey, a nice bout of hallucinations and definitely
Though it seems to be marketed as a horror movie, the category seems limiting for such a simple film. The film boundaries for simplicity and storytelling, while it may make you uncomfortable, it is not a babysitter slasher movie, that is for sure.
After an initial run in Los Angeles and New York City, the movie finally
released to widespread acclaim Oct. 25, starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson. Only two other actors are featured throughout the movie, accounting for maybe 10 collective moments of screen time. That’s how it feels though,
since every moment of the black and white, narrow-vision film drags like
the black mud that slides through the rocks by the movie’s lighthouse. Dafoe
and Pattinson arrive at their assigned lighthouse, silently wading through
the fog to open a movie that only goes farther down the hole of insanity from
With the two characters settling in, Dafoe is clearly the elder, with his emphasis that he rules “the light” and Pattinson is forbidden to go to the top of the lighthouse. Confused but obeying, Pattinson runs through mundane chores, filling fuel cans, shoveling coal and fighting with seagulls. After his first run-in with the birds Dafoe strongly warns against any more, saying that the god of the sea reincarnates lost sailors as sea birds, and it is not wise to anger him. To avoid spoilers: Pattinson hates sea birds, and Dafoe is not completely wrong either.
With his previous movie “The Witch” (2015), a perfect marriage of a night terror and a period piece, hopes were high for Eggers and his isolationist cult horror films. A sophomore slump is always a worrisome curse, but Eggers shakes it off and ultimately comes out stronger for it. The dent the film leaves in your sanity, if you’re anything like myself, will leave you confused, a little uncomfortable, but unable to stop thinking about what exactly the light means.
Eggers isn’t satisfied unless his vision matches accurate history he seeks to represent. Luckily for film buffs, we can hear straight from the horse’s mouth the incredible lengths him and his team went through to bring history to the present: they created it, literally. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Eggers said that after not being able to find something that could properly fit his vision, the team ended up creating a 70-foot lighthouse in Nova Scotia, Canada.
“We couldn’t find any lighthouses that fit our needs so … we just built a 70 foot working lighthouse,” Eggers said in the interview with Rolling Stone. “It could support the one-ton lens we brought in and apparently shine up to 16 miles out — that’s what the locals told us, at least.”
Just like any A24 movie, this film requires more than one watch. I’m still not sure I even understand it myself, but that’s the magic of these films; it encourages you to dig in, to pay all the attention you can then take out a loan to keep on paying. People may be going to see “Joker” in droves but what “The Lighthouse” gives viewers is something completely different. It’s time to think, to explore and to understand on your own, to draw your own conclusions and make you feel gross and sweaty throughout, all while throwing gas on the fire of hatred for seagulls. See the movie, see it again maybe after the third time it will make sense but every single time you’ll be drawn into what can best be described as a never-ending twilight zone.