Written by Robert and Max Eggers and directed by Robert Eggers, whose earlier work included THE WITCH, THE LIGHTHOUSE (2019) is a psychological historical horror film shot in stark black and white and transplanting old world mythology into a young America.
At the beginning of the film, Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe) and Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) arrive at a rugged island near Nova Scotia to operate a lighthouse for four weeks. Quickly, things sour for Winslow as he finds the irritable but senior Wake assigning him all the manual labor while refusing to allow him to enter the upper level of the lighthouse, which houses the lamp. Winslow has strange visions of tentacled creatures, mermaids, Wake’s previous assistant, and other strange elements. When a raging storm strands them long after they’re due to be relieved, the men forge a bond that contains the seeds of confrontation.
When starting the film, I’d prepared myself for an artsy borefest, but it’s anything but. The film is both strange and compelling. Pattinson has come a long way since TWILIGHT and delivers a powerful performance as the haunted Winslow, but Dafoe chews every scene as the irascible Wake who jealously guards the secret of the lamp. Thematically, I’m not sure what the film was trying to be. Originally, it was supposed to be an adaptation of an Edgar Allan Poe story, but it evolved. There are very strong elements of mythology, including Proteus and Prometheus, but it doesn’t come together in a way that makes me think it was really thought out. So while it didn’t quite come together for me, I enjoyed it quite a bit and found it almost unique. Catch it on Amazon Prime.