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The Lighthouse

Canada / USA 2019
produced by
Robert Eggers, Youree Henley, Lourenço Sant' Anna, Rodrigo Teixeira, Jay Van Hoy, Chris Columbus (executive), Eleanor Columbus (executive), Sophie Mas (executive), Arnon Milchan (executive), Yariv Milchan (executive), Caito Ortiz (executive), Josh Peters (executive), Michael Schaefer (executive), Alan Terpins (executive) for A24, Regency, RT Features
directed by Robert Eggers
starring Willem Dafoe, Robert Pattinson, Valeriia Karaman
written by Max Eggers, Robert Eggers, music by Mark Korven

review by
Mike Haberfelner

It's change of the guard at a lighthouse in the middle of stormy nowhere, and this time, seasoned keeper Tom (Willem Dafoe) brings with him newbie Ephraim (Robert Pattinson) - the latest newbie in a long line, as they all tend to go insane. Initially, the men have little love for one another, as Tom likes to work Ephraim to the bone and bullies him while getting drunk most of the time and locking himself in with the light for hours, to have as little to do with Ephraim as possible. It's only halfway through his stint that Ephraim actually shows some spunk, and that impresses Tom. He doesn't exactly grow to like Ephraim, mind you, but he respects him. Now Ephraim does his best to not lose it, not go insane like Tom's former partners, but there are things he sees, like mermaids and stuff, that make him question his sanity, and he grows increasingly bothered by seagulls, so much so that he kills one on his supposed last day - which is supposed to bring bad luck according to superstition.

It's the last night, and the two men have an alcohol-drenched farewell party, just like two friends would. Only, the next day, the relief boat doesn't come. What does come is a mighty storm that pretty much refines Tom and Ephraim to their quarters - which at first is fine, they drink some more, tell some more tall tales, have an ok time, really. But then the food runs out and the men are forced to live on alcohol alone - and in one alcohol-drenched night, Ephraim makes a confession that really worries Tom. And this is where Ephraim really starts to lose it ...

 

Granted, The Lighthouse feels a little long and repetitive in spots and could have been easily trimmed half an hour without losing anything of its impact - and that said, it's also an extremely fascinating film that gets most of its creepiness out of very little indeed, limited locations, merely two actors, black and white images shot in the almost forgotten 4:3 ratio - but a visionary directorial effort and camerawork make this work just as much as the two leads, and the writing is really excellent in this one, as it shifts audience sympathies from one character to the other, often intentionally leaves the viewer in the unclear who did what, or if what we're saying is (the film's) reality or the imagination of one of the characters. Now it's one of these films that leaves many questions open for sure (and on purpose), but if you're ok with that, it's pretty much a must-see.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD