“How long have we been on this rock? Five weeks? Two Days? Where are we? Help me to recollect.”Thomas Wake
A bizarre dramatic thriller that veers into horror as two lighthouse keepers on an isolated island struggle to maintain their sanity, The Lighthouse relies upon the combative, escalating performances of the film’s only two characters. Willem Dafoe’s irascible senior “wickie”, showing occasional softness only when he drinks, seems at first less nuanced than Robert Pattinson’s increasingly manic role. As we realise we are seeing much through the unreliable eyes of the latter, it emerges that Dafoe is effectively playing two roles, with the audience left to determine (or perhaps decree) reality. The use of black and white is more than mere affectation, the starkly oppressive visuals matched by overbearing sound design, frequently interrupted by the blare of a passing ship’s foghorn. Robert Eggers is unafraid to have darkness swallow most of the screen during night sequences. Even the use of the Academy aspect ratio is claustrophobic by modern standards — pressed in at the sides — as much as it harkens back to classic 1930s horror.