A lot can happen in a year’s time. I know I will eventually run into a string of films that will be less than enjoyable. In hopes to kick things off in the right direction, however, I’ve decided to make my first review of 2020 be about a film that I was looking forward to quite a bit. That film is Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse.
Two lighthouse keepers must remain calm and keep their sanity intact after a storm leaves them stranded on a New England island.
The last few years has seen quite a few polarizing films hit the horror genre. Movies like The Babadook, Hereditary, and It Follows seem to have created a divide amongst fans who either love them or hate them with no in between. Add to that list Robert Eggers’ The VVitch and you now have even more fans who either are completely infatuated with the work at hand or completely loathe it.
I tend to lean more towards the side of fans who enjoyed Eggers’ 2015 feature film debut, so I had high hopes heading into what was sure to be another interesting project with The Lighthouse.
A period piece taking place in the late 1800’s, Eggers took painstaking effort to ensure that his film achieved the correct tone for his story. Filmed in black and white and in a 1.19:1 aspect ratio, one that is not seen very often in modern motion pictures, The Lighthouse really does feel like something special straight from the jump.
Couple these filming choices with the particular dialects that both Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe, Boondock Saints, Odd Thomas) and Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson, Twilight franchise) speak in, the wardrobe worn throughout the film’s 109 minutes, and the beautifully constructed lighthouse set built in Nova Scotia, and you really have yourself an authentic 1890’s tale.
Both Dafoe and Pattinson do remarkably with what they are given. Whether the two are eating dinner in silence on the first day of their proposed four week stay or they are drunkenly dancing and singing as happily as ever, their performances are second to none. If any horror or film fan in general ever doubted the ability of Robert Pattinson as a performer simply because of how they may feel about the films he has previously been in, they need to watch The Lighthouse. His moments of timidity, sheer insanity, and everything in between are all a pleasure to watch.
I’m not going to lie to you guys here; There are quite a few moments when I wasn’t quite sure what the hell these characters were saying to each other. Admittedly, it isn’t as difficult to understand these particular dialects as it is the ones used in The VVitch, but there are still moments that can lead to confusion. I watched the entire film with subtitles on, as I do most films, just to be sure I wasn’t going to miss anything. Still, some things were easier to grasp than others.
The Lighthouse isn’t a straightforward horror film; It isn’t overly gory or explicitly graphic. Although the moments where violence is on display, it does get pretty gruesome. The true horror comes from watching these two deserted men lose their grip on sanity, making you, the audience, also question what may be real and what may all just be a fabrication of a sickening mind.
The Lighthouse at Home
Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse is currently available on Digital from Lionsgate. It will be available On Demand and on Blu-ray (plus Digital) and DVD this coming Tuesday, January 7.
The home release provides a beautiful 1080p High Definition transfer of the film. Because Eggers and his team shot the film in a 1.19:1 Pillar Box Presentation format, that is exactly how it is presented from Lionsgate on both the Blu-ray and the DVD.
The Blu of the film also contains an English 5.1 DTS-HD master audio track, while the DVD contains an English 5.1 Dolby Digital audio track. There are optional Spanish and English SDH subtitle tracks for the deaf or hard of hearing.
To get a better look behind the scenes of The Lighthouse, we are presented with various bonus content. Firstly is audio commentary with co-writer and director, Robert Eggers, himself. Additionally, there is a featurette entitled “The Lighthouse: A Dark and Stormy Tale,” which dives even further into the production and filming of the entire project.
It is an absolutely wonderful experience to see how much effort Eggers takes in order to bring his ideas to life, never settling for anything less than his original vision. Even if you aren’t the biggest fan of his films, there is something to be said about his work ethic and his love of the horror genre.
Just as The VVitch did, I see why The Lighthouse might divide fans. I did not enjoy this one quite as much as its 2015 predecessor, but it is still a great watch.
There is no doubt that you will feel some sense of dread when watching this film and the performances from both Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe are incredible. For their work alone, this one needs to be seen.
Be sure to watch this decline into madness for yourself, as I give The Lighthouse 3.5 Goddamned farts out of 5.