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The Lighthouse (2019) Review

By Ian Crow

After the release of the acclaimed and bonkers horror movie ‘The Witch, director Robert Eggers has been pinned down as one of the most exciting new directors around. His superb take on the genre with his first feature terrified and bewildered audiences in 2015, including ourselves and is one that we won’t be forgetting anytime soon. With his follow up ‘The Lighthouse’, word has been spreading for nearly a year since its Cannes Film Festival slot in 2019. This psychological horror/thriller stars the soon to be Batman in Robert Pattinson and the legendary Willem Dafoe. Both actors play lighthouse keepers who are on a remote island in the 1800’s and try to stay sane during their work on the island.

If you’ve seen ‘The Witch’ and are about to watch this new film, then expect the unexpected, as ‘The Lighthouse’ is just as barmy as his previous work. We wouldn’t necessarily say this is an all-out horror movie, so if that’s what you’re expecting, then save your breath. This is more than jump scares, an elevator full of blood or a crazed maniac going around murdering people, this is a close quarters, character driven storyline that pulls you in and gives you the creeps. Whether this will be many mainstream cinemagoers cup of tea is a question to be answered. If you’re a fan of weird, underground movies then this is right up your street. The huge bonus the film has is its star power in Pattinson and Dafoe. Even though some moments in the film aren’t necessarily what you would expect from the picture, expect two actors in their absolute prime, having a whale of a time on screen and delivering really enjoyable performances. It’s hard to single one actor out, but this is further evidence, especially for Pattinson who has enjoyed a fruitful time in independent cinema showing his versatility and potential to be one of the better actors out there. Dafoe, as always, commands when he is on screen, effortlessly.

Robert Eggers direction for this is perfect. Alongside his DP (Director of Photography) Jarin Blaschke, who has been rightfully nominated for an Academy Award for Cinematography, they both make an excellent team. Shot in Black and White and utilising the 1.19:1 aspect ratio that is commonly used after the time when talkies were being phased out of cinema. Using this aspect ratio mirrors what photography would have looked like in the 19th Century, this is exactly what Eggers had in mind for the film as it narrows the shot. It is some of the best direction we’ve seen in a while.

Where the story may falter at times, ‘The Lighthouse’ is covered massively elsewhere to compensate. Backed by a hugely talented director who we will continue to keep our eye on and having a wonderful cast that carries the film helps elevate the film to be one of the most interesting of 2020 so far.

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