Review: The Lighthouse (2019)

Director/Screenwriter: Robert Eggers
Starring: Willem Dafoe, Robert Pattinson
Genres: Horror, Drama
MPAA Rating: Rated R for sexual content, nudity, violence, disturbing images, and some language
Release Dates: 10/25/19 (Wide); 1/7/20 (Disc/Streaming)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse is a very difficult film to review because it is so unusual and bizarre and not everyone’s cup of tea. In fact, after it was over, I almost said aloud, “what the f*** did I just watch?” I kind of felt like that after watching Uncut Gems, although in that instance, the journey was exhilarating and totally worth it. The Lighthouse is similarly stressful, but not in a good way.

Eggers takes numerous risks, but most of them don’t pay off. Fortunately, he cast two actors who clearly gave it their all, both in prep work and in their performances. Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe are two very different performers, with different acting backgrounds and different ways of working and rehearsing. In spite of or perhaps because of this, the scenes between the two of them (the only real actors in the film) are explosive. Even though I disliked the movie, I may recommend it to others, if only to see Pattinson and Dafoe at their manic best.

I will also praise the black-and-white cinematography, recently nominated for an Oscar; the compact camera work certainly heightens the dread and overall creepiness of the film.

I wish there was more of a plot/story; as I watched these two men descend into madness, I couldn’t help but be confused as to what exactly was happening. Maybe that was the point, although I similarly disliked how much of the dialogue was lost due to the odd [yet precise] accents and mumbling. The climactic ending is only slightly earned, and when it was over, I thought, “THAT’S the end?”