Review by Camden Ferrell
After the success of his first movie, 2015’s The Witch, Robert Eggers’s newest film, The Lighthouse, premiered at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. This is a stylishly bleak film filled with great performances and a claustrophobic atmosphere.
This psychological horror film follows two lighthouse keepers as their continued isolation causes tension and paranoia between them. The cabin fever set-up isn’t an especially original concept in narratives, but Eggers does a great job with infusing the premise with enough of his own unique style to give the genre new life.
This film creates a truly immersive experience. The audience is forced to endure the painfully unpredictable circumstances these characters experience. Even in its very few moments of joy and elation, it never allows its audience to exhale or feel safe. There is a continuously looming sense of dread in every scene that really elevates the impact of the film.
The main showcase of this film is its performances. Robert Pattinson (High Life) and Willem Defoe (The Florida Project) both give career-best performances. They are utterly astounding in nearly every scene. Pattinson leads the film with a cautious and subversive turn. However, I believe Defoe stands out more so than Pattinson. He has a handful of jaw-dropping monologues and soliloquies that are masterful.
One of the few problems with this film is that there are some moments in the first act that feel oddly paced. Some shots are a little indulgent, and it is fairly noticeable. However, this is a flaw that is fixed rapidly and doesn’t really affect the overall quality of the film.
Eggers’s script, that he co-wrote with his brother Max Eggers, is very layered. It’s a cabin fever story with elements of mythology that give this movie an allegorical feeling at times. It’s a story that lends itself to dissection and discussion. It’s clear that the script was crafted meticulously, and that is why this movie works on so many different levels.
The film also features some great technical aspects. Its sound mixing is absolutely stellar. It expertly understands the landscape and blends all of its elements like the roaring thunder, crashing waves, and the actors’ booming voices. It also succeeds thanks to the cinematography that perfectly encapsulates Eggers’ style. It is a visual treat as well as an auditorily pleasing one.
Robert Eggers’s sophomore feature is an ambitious and deliberate horror film that will excite audiences. Featuring Oscar-worthy performances from Pattinson and Defoe, The Lighthouse is must-see horror this fall.
The Lighthouse is now playing in theaters.