The Lighthouse Review

The Lighthouse

Much like fellow horror auteur, Ari Aster, Robert Egger’s next film was met with a lot of anticipation. After all, The Witch was a creepy and atmospheric horror film with an engaging mystery. So is The Lighthouse an amazing follow-up to The Witch or does Eggers fall under the sophomore slump?

Much like Aster, Egger’s second film is a huge disappointment. Conceptually, the idea behind the film is great. But the final product is something that only a select group of people will enjoy.

The Lighthouse follows Ephraim Winslow and Thomas Wake, two lighthouse keepers on a remote New England island for a month. But things start to unravel as they start to go mad during their stay on the island.

The Lighthouse - Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson

Aesthetically the film takes a lot of inspiration from the cinematography and style of Akira Kurosawa. Egger’s up-close use of the camera lets the audience see the emotion and facial expressions of the actors. It’s a camera trick seen in a lot of Kurosawa films like Seven Samurai and Rashomon. Not to mention, Egger’s use of camera movement and subject framing also is a lot like Kurosawa. Everything is balanced or centered in the frame.

So yes, the black and white 4:3 format is a smart choice for the story that Egger is trying to make. The Lighthouse is essentially a film about a man going insane. With this format, Egger confines the audience into this small space along with them. This also means that he’s trapping you in the madness as well.

All of the choices are smart but the final product is something that only a select audience would enjoy. It’s not a film that’s “normal”. The film is extremely weird for weirdness’ sake. If you take a look at the trailer and you think to yourself “that’s weird” then you are not ready for what’s ahead of you. A24 has saved the weirdest parts of the film for the film itself.

The Lighthouse - Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe

Nevertheless, there is no buildup or payoff to what you see. That’s because the madness seems to happen quite suddenly. So suddenly that you wonder how did it come to this point. In the end, you might be left unsatisfied or bored out of your mind.

Once the film starts to go in its mad state, the visuals start to become uncomfortable and very surreal. It’s like watching the visuals from the video in The Ring for the majority of the film. At this point, nothing in the film makes sense. You begin to question who’s madder: Thomas or Ephraim. Then again, Eggers could be making you the third wheel to this lighthouse crew and it’s you that’s also mad.

But both Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe fully commit to every single crazy thing that happens in the film. He brings a lot of insanity to his performance. If you are the type of person that has an investment in the film, it’s most likely because of Pattinson’s performance. Dafoe constantly chews up the scene with his over the top “pirate” accent and boorish behavior. He even farts a lot too…

Overall, The Lighthouse is a conceptually artistic film that relies heavily on surreal images and insane performances from Pattinson and Dafoe. The film is so artistic that it will turn off viewers unprepared for it. It’s the kind of film that caters to a niche crowd.

Rating: 2.5/5 atoms

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