REVIEW: Robert Eggers cements his place in horror hall of fame with ‘The Lighthouse’


Photo courtesy of A24

Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe arrive on the rock. They play two “wickies” tasked with working at a lighthouse.

Jonah Salazar

Directed, co-produced and co-written by Robert Eggers, “The Lighthouse” is a full-blown sensory assault that will leave you confused and desperate for answers as the final credits roll.

I don’t think I have ever seen a film that felt so “artsy” but so unpretentious at the same time. While making the film appear as if it were shot in the early 20th century might appear gimmicky to some, it really only enhances the authenticity of the story being told. 

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We’re dropped on the rock along with Robert Pattinson’s Ephraim Winslow, a “timberman” who is looking for a fresh start working in a remote lighthouse as a “wickie” alongside Willem Dafoe’s Thomas Wake. 

As Winslow and Wake spend more time trapped on the island together, the line between delusion and reality begins to blur and we are left to wonder which one of these men will succumb to their madness first.

Is this an old salty dog’s sea tale of two men who drove each other to the brink, or are there more divine forces at play here? 

Everything about this film is intended to make you feel claustrophobic. From the cramped living conditions, to the 1.33:1 aspect ratio, you’ll spend the entirety of it wondering if you stumbled into one of Eggers’s fever dreams (in the best possible way).

On a technical level, everything about this movie is absolutely flawless and would not have worked as well if it hadn’t been filmed in black and white. The lighting does an excellent job of conveying emotion through its subdued color palette, almost to the point where it makes the setting feel as if it is its own character.

Eggers also isn’t afraid of keeping the audience laughing throughout the film. As Winslow and Wake drunkenly parade around the island we’re given some hilarious one-liners, and a bountiful amount of fart jokes

The laughter only stops when you realize the joke has gone on for too long to feel comfortable anymore, and that’s when the surrealist nightmare Eggers has trapped us in begins again.

Pattinson and Dafoe deserve all the praise that has been floating around for them following this film’s release. Every ounce of effort put in by them is conveyed in their characters’ actions, and you can really tell they put their all into every scene.

I’d honestly be shocked if Dafoe isn’t considered a serious contender for Best Actor this year.

I don’t want to spoil this film any more than I already have, so I won’t delve too deep into any theories on symbolism. But I will say that any time you think you have the plot pegged down, it’ll slide through your fingers as Eggers introduces a new twist into the mix. 

Don’t expect to be able to piece things together as you’re watching. 

The meaning of this film is going to be debated a lot, as it’s very open for interpretation, but it did leave me with one major lingering question:

How long did I say it would be until my next rewatch? Five weeks? Two days? Help me to recollect.