There are a lot of horror movies out there, but there is nothing that even comes close to “The Lighthouse.” This film perfectly conveys the emotions of isolation and loneliness that you would expect from a movie about lighthouse keepers. From the opening shot of the movie, the tension oozes from every single frame and you get the feeling that something will go wrong any second. Director Robert Eggers managed to create a vision of history that feels real and will keep you enthralled from beginning to end.
The plot follows two lighthouse keepers that get marooned on an island far off the coast of New England. A storm rolls in and strands them on the island for an unknown amount of time. As time passes, it becomes harder and harder to tell what is real and what is a hallucination. The conclusion of the movie is kind of obvious but it’s not disappointing, in fact it’s oddly satisfying and leaves you with a lot to process. The film is loosely based on the Small Lighthouse Tragedy that happened in 1801.
The performances in the film were outstanding. Robert Pattinson did a fantastic job and really made you believe he was going crazy. You constantly go back and forth between sympathizing with and despising him. Willem Dafoe gave a career defining performance, as he plays a Captain Ahab parody and they even poke fun at how much of a sailor stereotype he is in the film. The thing that really makes these characters is the fantastic writing; it does a great job of fleshing out the characters. The Eggers Brothers used real life Lighthouse keeper’s logs in order to make the dialogue and character interactions as realistic as possible.
This film was shot entirely in black and white 35mm film which gives it a unique look. Instead of using color, they use extreme shadow and lighting in order to give us fantastic looking visuals. The way they lit each scene resembles “The Cabinet of Dr Callagare,”using extreme shadows to convey emotion or intent. The film is also in a reduced aspect ratio to look like photos from the time and to make you feel claustrophobic. The film was shot mostly in Nova Scotia, so all the sets and locations look good and realistic. A lot of the extreme weather that was showcased in the film was real, and the actors had to perform through freezing temperatures, rouge waves, and near constant storms.
Some shots in this movie still haunt me. I cannot stop thinking about this movie after watching it about two weeks ago. This is a film that I’ll probably be able to watch repeatedly and get something new out of it every time. “The Lighthouse” in my opinion has become a staple of modern horror, and will set the standard for films in general. If this movie is running in a theater near you, you must go see it. It’s one you cannot miss.