As the wavering cry of the foghorn fills the air, the taciturn former lumberjack, Ephraim Winslow, and the grizzled lighthouse keeper, Thomas Wake, set foot in a secluded and perpetually grey islet off the coast of late-19th-century New England. For the following four weeks of back-breaking work and unfavourable conditions, the tight-lipped men will have no one else for company except for each other, forced to endure irritating idiosyncrasies, bottled-up resentment, and burgeoning hatred. Then, amid bad omens, a furious and unending squall maroons the pale beacon's keepers in the already inhospitable volcanic rock, paving the way for a prolonged period of feral hunger; excruciating agony; manic isolation, and horrible booze-addled visions. Now, the eerie stranglehold of insanity tightens. Is there an escape from the wall-less prison of the mind?Written by
When asked to describe the movie, director/writer Robert Eggers always used the same choice of words in every interview: "Nothing good can happen when two men are trapped alone in a giant phallus." See more »
How long have we been on this rock? Five weeks? Two Days? Where are we? Help me to recollect
See more »
Robert Eggers' second (?) feature is a superb piece of mind-bending cinema. There are parallels with his earlier film, The Witch, elements of psychological horror which Eggers clearly finds interesting and hopefully hasn't finished exploring just yet.
The decision to film in black and white is a stroke of genius. Every scene is filled with ominous portent and obscuring shadows. The film plays with our perceptions and moods throughout. There are moments of comedy amongst the gloom, the two men stranded on the rock endure a tumultuous relationship, by turns suspicious, angry and even savage, then there are unexpected moments of comradeship fuelled by alcohol. We are forced to question constantly who is mad, or perhaps madder? Are they in the grip of a storm, or are they in Hell?
And the soundtrack! No one I can think of uses sound to create atmosphere quite like Eggers. Foghorns, the relentlessly howling wind, the seagulls; is it any wonder if they were as mad as a box of frogs?
Willem Dafoe is absolutely fantastic in The Lighthouse. He really should be considered for an Oscar for his turn as the saltiest of old seadogs, spouting rage-filled Melville-esque invective straight from Davey Jones' locker, at sporadic intervals. I don't think there are many actors who could've pulled off that performance with such aplomb. He chews the scenery mercilessly, but it is exactly what the role requires; his Thomas Wake is a force of nature in human form.
The Lighthouse won't be to everyone's taste, and it would be a mistake to view it as a moody twin sister of The Witch (which was a genuine horror); but I found it to be mesmerising and intriguing, and a fabulously well-crafted psychological drama with trimmings of horror.
156 of 195 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this