Keeping Secrets Are Ye?
The Lighthouse | Directed by Robert Eggers | Horror | 14A | 1 H 49 MINS
by Anton Carpentier
Robert Eggers returns with another New England based horror film titled The Lighthouse. A film centered around two men, in a phallic structure, on a rock, in middle of the ocean. What could go wrong? According to Eggers, absolutely everything can and will go wrong. The film is brutal exploration of our psyche, using horrific physical elements to portray the fragility of our minds. This guttural depiction of sanity, body, and trauma is embodied in the films two characters: Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) and Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe). Winslow is a nomad and rookie in the world of being a wicky (a lighthouse attendant). Wake is his polar opposite, he is old and experienced, having dedicated most of his life to “the light”. What that means is really for you to find out. Their relationship ebbs and flows from being combativeness and being intimate friends. With alcohol being the catalyst for the latter.
The film wastes no time getting into the story. Within the first few minutes we understand the atmosphere, location and have met both characters. Unlike most horror films which chose to build up to scary elements, The Lighthouse attacks the viewer with almost immediate discomfort. Not a scene goes by without something strange occurring. This is mainly accomplished by the excellent performances and the director’s faith that the audience can experience fear through these characters. That’s not to say we feel empathy towards these men, in fact, I’d argue it’s a fear of not truly knowing who these men are. A sentiment that’s reflected in the film’s unpredictable nature.
Speaking of nature, the film brilliantly uses natural imagery to convey thematic elements and when the wind changes, so does the direction of the film. Additionally, the use of oceanic imagery to illicit an alien feeling of fear is a reoccurring motif. Gulls and crabs are an ever-present source of discomfort, emotionally and physically. That isn’t even mentioning the odd mermaid that will make you reevaluate how you see, well, mermaids. I focus so heavily on this because it’s what makes this film truly unique, and I feel makes the meat and bones of the film worthwhile. To say anything else about the actual film, would sully the experience of this film.
I have to say this movie is a real treat, it’s disturbing, it’s gritty, and it’s hard to recommend. The best kind of movie. Should you watch it? Yes. Will you hate me for telling you to see it? Depends. Could this movie ruin your love of East Coast cuisine? Probably. Although, I still think you should see it.
Overall, this movie has to be one of the best of the year. It’s fresh, it’s fishy and it’s weird.