The Lighthouse

BBFC RatingThe Lighthouse

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Certificate15
Year2019
GenreDrama, Fantasy, Horror
DirectorRobert Eggers
LanguageEnglish
CountryCanada, USA
Running Time1HR 49MINS
SeasonMain Programme

After having spooked audiences into a delicious frenzy with his much-lauded feature debut The Witch, director Robert Eggers returns with this chillingly intimate tale of two lighthouse keepers (Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson) sequestered on a tiny — and perhaps enchanted — Atlantic isle.

Charged with tending to a lighthouse for a four-week term, the taciturn Ephraim Winslow (Pattinson) spends his days toiling away with backbreaking upkeep, while during the nights it is only his elder cohort Thomas Wake (Dafoe) who is allowed to keep the beacon in operation. Growing weary of menial tasks, Ephraim's curiosity regarding Thomas' hours alone with the big light burgeons. But is it just fatigue and envy that cause Ephraim to become increasingly paranoid about the loitering seagulls, to the point where he's visited by strange apparitions? 

Set in the 19th century and photographed by Jarin Blaschke in starkly beautiful black and white, The Lighthouse harkens back to the literature of Melville while accruing a hallucinatory ambience that feels entirely fresh. The film's crude humour, hypnotic sounds, and spectral imagery lure us in, but it's Pattinson and Dafoe holding our attention, even as the men begin to slide off the deep end with truly unhinged performances that feature Pattinson, spellbinding with his bushy beard, piercing eyes, and salty accent, and Dafoe, captivating as he goads his young mate to reveal his shadowy past. As The Lighthouse veers into ever-darker waters, this brilliant pair enters a dangerous dance that will leave you staggering out of the cinema on sea legs.