I saw The Lighthouse with the following knowledge:
- Robert Pattinson and Willem Defoe were the main stars
- It was shot on 35mm black & white film in a 4:1 aspect ratio
- The film was a physiological horror film set on an island with a Lighthouse during 1890
- Robert Eggers was the director of the film
- There was a mermaid in the film
I also knew about the overwhelming amount of praise this film had received.
So what exactly did I get from watch The Lighthouse?
My first impressions from the film immediately were, and I quote word for word, “Fucking Hell Man.” I then contacted my closest friends and told them how absolutely fucking wild the film was.
I had my eye on this film for quite awhile now, after seeing the first screenshot released I was curious. Then the reviews started coming out. Then the trailer dropped.
I was counting down the days for this film, avoiding spoilers, and could not wait.
October 18th was announced to be a limited release, I had the film marked on my calendar, I was determined to see the first showing as early as I could. It sadly did not come.
October 25th was the next day announced to have a wider release. In my disappointment, it still hadn’t arrived. It wasn’t until November 1st that the theater nearest to me had received the film in theaters.
I got a ticket for the soonest showtime I could get too and was excited.
So what exactly did I see?
The year is 1890, a new crewman who goes by the name of Ephraim Winslow has arrived at the shore of his new workplace for the next four weeks. His captain is an elderly man who introduces himself as Thomas Wake. These two men will be the keepers of a lighthouse isolated on a island off the coast of New England. Winslow works hard shoveling coal, cleaning their quarters, making general repairs and keeping the lighthouse well oiled and maintained. Captain Wake spends his hours up in the lighthouse locked away with the light up top. The two aren’t much for conversation and both seem to keeping their secrets. After four weeks have passed the two men are prepared to leave, but a storm unexpectedly prolongs their stay.
I won’t go on much more than that, as the film is almost certainly worth going in blind.
I love this film, as I’ve said many times before and went on quite the thread here. It’s a cinematic masterpiece that I hope is remembered for years to come.
It promises on a physiological horror in which one feels as if something is wrong. There’s a sense of uncertainty and the fact that the film was shot in a 4:1 aspect ratio (meaning you’ve got those huge black bars on the sides of the film) gives it this genuine sense of claustrophobia.
The actors are amazing, and sell their parts really well. I completely forgot I was watching Robert Pattinson and Willem Defoe on screen. They each have a distinct personality and characteristics that you catch onto. They give you this unnerving sense that someone is going to snap and both of them are on the verge of just killing the other.
There is another important character in this film, the lighthouse itself. A looming figure with a almost dreary inside. Rusty steps and a light the never stops slowly spinning. It’s moving gears and creaking sounds give off this feeling of dread that one feels walking into a rotting house or an empty school at night. You feel as if you don’t belong or inside it and want to leave immediately.
Alongside the tight aspect ratio is the tightly packed location. Whether it be inside the lighthouse, inside their quarters, or even outside with the foggy coastline and stormy skies, the film makes you uncomfortably but also allows you to become familiar with this place you will be calling home for the next nearly 2 hours.
The movie also has a bone chilling score from one Mark Korven. It can be dreary and somber or almost uplifting yet unholy. The score consists of heavy tones that constantly loom over you carrying the pacing and mood of the film along with you. It gives you a feeling as if at any moment something bad is bound to happen.
You learn every step, trench, and plank as the film goes on. You become familiar with this place and its disgusting details. You are stuck here with Thomas and Ephraim. You are stuck here with the lighthouse that looms over you.
The Lighthouse is this generations The Shining. A masterpiece in film, acting, horror, and innovation. It’s an artistic masterpiece that should be remembered for years and studied. It’s not something that can easily be replicated and not something that should be replicated. There is no need for a sequel to this film, as we have seen time and time again never hits the ball quite right. (looking at you Doctor Sleep.)
This film deserves all the praise its received and more. I wish to see more of Robert Eggers work in the future. Please watch this movie if you can, for I cannot reccomend enough, I believe this is the movie of the year for me.