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  • Writer's pictureAllan Major

The Lighthouse 2019 Reviewed


Featured Image For The Lighthouse 2019 Reviewed.  Movie poster for 'The Lighthouse' featuring Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe in front of a lighthouse, with a stormy sky and seagulls flying above.
In 'The Lighthouse,' isolation breeds madness. As the storm rages outside, two men confront the terrifying secrets that lie within and between them.

There are films that entertain, and then there are films that haunt. "The Lighthouse" is the latter, a monochrome descent into madness that captures the eerie beauty of isolation and the claustrophobic intensity of two men teetering on the edge of sanity. Imagine a black-and-white canvas splashed with the murkiness of human psyche, painted by the deft hands of Robert Eggers, whose meticulous craftsmanship brought us "The Witch." From the very first frame, "The Lighthouse" ensnares you in its grip, pulling you into a remote and mysterious New England island in the late 19th century, where reality and hallucination blur into a single, haunting vision.


Key Takeaways After Watching This Film

  • Isolation and Madness: The film powerfully illustrates the psychological effects of isolation, showing how prolonged solitude and confinement can lead to madness and hallucinations. The intense relationship between the two lighthouse keepers underscores the thin line between sanity and insanity.

  • Stunning Visuals and Cinematography: The use of black-and-white film and a nearly square aspect ratio creates a claustrophobic and timeless feel. The cinematography by Jarin Blaschke is a standout, with meticulous attention to light and shadow, enhancing the film's eerie and oppressive atmosphere.

  • Masterful Performances: Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson deliver extraordinary performances, bringing depth and complexity to their characters. Their dynamic, filled with tension and volatility, drives the film's narrative and emotional impact.

  • Folklore and Mythology: The film is rich with references to maritime folklore, myth, and superstition. Themes of punishment, guilt, and the supernatural are woven throughout, adding layers of meaning and intrigue to the story.

  • Sound Design and Music: The film's soundscape, including Mark Korven’s haunting musical score, the relentless foghorn, and the ambient sounds of the sea, plays a crucial role in building the film's tense and immersive atmosphere. The sound design is integral to the viewer's experience of the characters' psychological descent.


A woman, her eyes filled with unease and a hint of madness, mesmerized by the unsettling events of The Lighthouse.
The isolation seeps into her soul, mirroring the descent into madness witnessed on the desolate island.

Starring Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, this tale of two lighthouse keepers—Ephraim Winslow and Thomas Wake—is a masterclass in filmmaking. Pattinson’s character, Ephraim Winslow, arrives on this desolate island seeking employment and perhaps a bit of solitude. What he finds instead is Thomas Wake, a grizzled and superstitious wickie, whose stern exterior conceals a tempestuous soul. Their interactions are a dance of dominance and submission, camaraderie and enmity, as they navigate the treacherous waters of isolation and their own unraveling minds.


Eggers's direction is nothing short of visionary. He plunges us into the story with an almost voyeuristic intensity, using a nearly square aspect ratio to enhance the film’s claustrophobic feel. The cinematography by Jarin Blaschke is gorgeous, transforming the stark black-and-white visuals into a hauntingly beautiful tapestry that echoes the silent films of yore. The island, with its towering lighthouse and relentless seagulls, becomes a character in itself—a bleak, omnipresent entity that watches, judges, and ultimately, devours.


The sound design is another pillar of this film’s unsettling atmosphere. Mark Korven’s musical score weaves through the narrative like a ghostly presence, punctuated by the incessant blare of the foghorn and the howling winds. These elements work in tandem to create a soundscape that is as oppressive as it is immersive, drawing you deeper into the characters' deteriorating world.


The performances by Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson are nothing short of extraordinary. Dafoe’s Thomas Wake is a seafaring enigma, with his period dialogue and taciturn demeanor masking a turbulent psyche. His performance is a tour de force, a blend of Shakespearean gravitas and Melvillean intensity. Pattinson’s portrayal of Ephraim Winslow is equally compelling, his brooding presence and simmering rage providing a stark contrast to Dafoe’s bombastic bravado. Together, they create a dynamic that is both mesmerizing and unsettling, a symbiotic relationship that spirals into mutual destruction.


A man, his face pale and a look of dread etched on his features, gripped by the psychological torment of The Lighthouse.
The relentless waves of paranoia crash over him, echoing the chilling isolation and looming darkness of the film.

Maintaining A Semblance Of Reality

Eggers's script, co-written with his brother Max Eggers, is steeped in myth and folklore, drawing on influences from Lovecraft to Guy Maddin. The story of two men, isolated and slowly driven mad, is timeless, yet the Eggers brothers infuse it with a freshness that feels both contemporary and archaic. The dialogue, delivered in archaic seafaring lingo, adds to the film’s authenticity, grounding the surreal events in a tangible reality.


The lighthouse itself is a beacon of both hope and doom, its light cutting through the darkness like a blade. It is a symbol of man's eternal struggle against the elements, a solitary sentinel standing against the encroaching madness. The interplay of light and shadow, meticulously crafted by Blaschke, elevates the lighthouse to a near-mythical status, its beams illuminating the darkest corners of the human soul.


The film's climax is a slow-motion descent into madness, a culmination of tension that has been simmering beneath the surface. As the lines between reality and hallucination blur, the characters’ inner demons are laid bare, their madness gleefully unrestrained. It is a testament to Eggers's skill as a filmmaker that he can maintain this delicate balance between horror and beauty, creating a film that is as thought-provoking as it is terrifying.


"The Lighthouse" is not just a movie; it is an experience, a journey into the darkest recesses of the human psyche. It is a film that demands a second viewing, not just to unravel its myriad layers, but to fully appreciate the artistry involved in its creation. From its meticulous period detail to its stunning cinematography, every element of this film is crafted with a precision that is rarely seen in modern cinema.


In conclusion, "The Lighthouse" is a triumph of arthouse filmmaking, a claustrophobic thriller set in the late 19th century that explores the depths of madness and the fragility of the human mind. Robert Eggers delivers a follow-up to "The Witch" that is both haunting and mesmerizing, a film that lingers in the mind long after the credits have rolled. With unforgettable performances by Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson, and a visual style that is as gorgeous as it is unsettling, "The Lighthouse" stands as one of the most compelling films in recent memory. It is a tale of two men, an isolated island, and a light that beckons with both hope and doom. A film that is as enigmatic as it is profound, "The Lighthouse" is a beacon in the fog of modern cinema, a light that guides us into the unknown, and into the very heart of darkness.


And that is The Lighthouse 2019 Reviewed. A modern claustrophobic horror and psychological thriller you need to see. 


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If You Liked The Lighthouse You Might Also Like These Films

  • "The Witch" (2015):

  • Directed by Robert Eggers, this film is a period horror set in 1630s New England. It follows a Puritan family who is exiled to the edge of a dark forest where strange and terrifying events begin to unfold. The film shares a similar atmospheric tension and meticulous attention to historical detail as "The Lighthouse."

  • "The Shining" (1980):

  • Directed by Stanley Kubrick and based on Stephen King's novel, this classic horror film explores the psychological unraveling of Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) as he becomes the winter caretaker of the isolated Overlook Hotel. The film's themes of isolation, madness, and supernatural occurrences echo those in "The Lighthouse."

  • "Eraserhead" (1977):

  • Directed by David Lynch, this surrealist body horror film follows Henry Spencer (Jack Nance) as he navigates a bleak and industrial landscape while caring for his deformed newborn child. The film's nightmarish imagery, unsettling atmosphere, and exploration of psychological disturbance make it a fitting companion to "The Lighthouse."

  • "Antichrist" (2009):

  • Directed by Lars von Trier, this controversial horror film stars Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg as a grieving couple who retreat to a cabin in the woods, where they encounter disturbing and supernatural events. The film's exploration of grief, pain, and madness, combined with its intense and provocative imagery, aligns with the themes of "The Lighthouse."

  • "Persona" (1966):

  • Directed by Ingmar Bergman, this psychological drama explores the intense relationship between a nurse (Bibi Andersson) and her patient, a mute actress (Liv Ullmann). The film delves into themes of identity, duality, and existential dread, using stark black-and-white cinematography and a minimalist setting to create a claustrophobic and introspective atmosphere similar to "The Lighthouse."


The Lighthouse 2019 Reviewed FAQs


Q: What is "The Lighthouse" about?

A: "The Lighthouse" is a movie directed by Robert Eggers, following two lighthouse keepers, played by Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, who start to lose their sanity on a deserted island in the 1890s. The film explores themes of isolation, madness, and the supernatural, set against the backdrop of a remote and mysterious New England island. The story delves into the psychological and physical toll of their confinement, revealing their deepest fears and hallucinations.


Q: Who are the main actors in "The Lighthouse"?

A: Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe are the main actors in "The Lighthouse." Pattinson plays Ephraim Winslow, a young and inexperienced wickie, while Dafoe portrays Thomas Wake, a grizzled and superstitious veteran lighthouse keeper. Their intense and volatile relationship is central to the film's narrative, driving much of the psychological tension and drama.


Q: How would you describe the atmosphere of "The Lighthouse"?

A: The movie creates a sense of claustrophobia and isolation, immersing viewers in a tense and eerie environment. The film's nearly square aspect ratio and stark black-and-white cinematography by Jarin Blaschke enhance this atmosphere, making the lighthouse and the island feel oppressive and haunting. The relentless sound of the foghorn, the howling winds, and Mark Korven's haunting musical score further amplify the sense of dread and unease.


Q: Is "The Lighthouse" similar to "The Witch," another movie by Robert Eggers?

A: Yes, both movies share a similar dark and atmospheric tone, showcasing Eggers' unique filmmaking style. Like "The Witch," "The Lighthouse" is meticulously crafted, with an emphasis on period-accurate details, unsettling sound design, and a slow-burn narrative that builds tension gradually. Both films also delve into themes of isolation, madness, and the supernatural, drawing heavily on folklore and mythology.


Q: What do film critics say about "The Lighthouse"?

A: Film critics have praised the performances of Pattinson and Dafoe, as well as the haunting imagery and intense storytelling of the film. Critics have highlighted the film's unique visual style, the effective use of sound to create atmosphere, and the compelling character dynamics. "The Lighthouse" has been lauded for its bold artistic choices, its psychological depth, and its ability to evoke a visceral emotional response from the audience.


Q: Where is "The Lighthouse" set?

A: The movie is set on a remote island with a lighthouse off the coast of New England in the 1890s. The isolated location plays a crucial role in the story, contributing to the characters' sense of entrapment and descent into madness. The film's setting is meticulously recreated to reflect the harsh, unforgiving environment of a late 19th-century lighthouse station.


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