I cannot write a review for The Lighthouse as one would normally do. I tried, but I can’t seem to do it. In fact, this here is now the fifth rewrite.
The Lighthouse is a completely different type of horror film, unlike anything we have seen before. Definitely nothing like The Conjuring franchise, and also nothing like A24 favourites Midsommar and Hereditary. It’s style and approach might be off putting for some but I am in absolute awe of this film.
The Lighthouse is a wholly original film in a sea of reboots and sequels. There really is nothing quite like it. The technical choices further set it apart, like shooting in a 1.19:1 aspect ratio and in black-and-white for example, making this film a truly unique experience.
Robert Eggers is god-like with his direction. I did not expect his take of two men spiraling into madness to have such a profound impact on me.
What perhaps is the film’s master stroke is that it quietly gets under your skin. You do not feel it weaving itself into you but as our leads lose more and more of their sanity, it feels almost as if your own sanity is being taken away. And when things get out of control, it all feels “normal” because the film has successfully taken over us.
The aspect ratio and colour grading adds to the film’s restive vibe. The peculiar 1.19:1 ratio feels almost claustrophobic, and is genius. It mimics the cramped living quarters of the lighthouse and puts the audience into that head space.
The black-and-white cinematography brings such a powerful style to the film, I do not think the film would have had the same effect had it been in colour. A point I haven’t seen many touch on is how the film actually looks from the year it is set in — 1890. The choice to shoot in 35mm black-and-white film gave it a vintage feel that only plus the picture.
Can’t forget that foghorn that plays through the film. Think about the last time you repeatedly heard an alarm go off and how with every ring it just gets into your head more and more. The foghorn is used to the same effect. The sound design is amazing and the way the film weaves in everyday sounds with the soundtrack makes it that much more polished.
The Lighthouse for all its technical qualities would be nothing without Robert Pattinson and William Dafoe. Both turn in truly transformative performances, it is the best I have ever seen from either. Pattinson in particular really gripped and sold me. If you have ever doubted Pattinson’s acting abilities, this film would change that. It is truly criminal that neither Pattinson nor Dafoe got nominated for their performances here.
I do hope that Pattinson continues to make these sort of films even while being the Batman. Films like this prove the sheer talent Pattinson has and will only add value to his brand.
Combining the impeccable craft with the performances of our leads, The Lighthouse is a horror film that transcends scaring. Using every aspect of filmmaking, it digs into you, it toys with you. It isn’t creepy, nor is it scary. It is something more that I don’t know the right word for.
The Lighthouse is a work of masterful craftsmanship. It is unique, it is uncompromising, it is ahead of its time. The Lighthouse is an experience that words cannot properly convey, it is a film that consumes you.
I have seen a few films that really reached into me and connected with me in a truly special way. Films like Midsommar and Mandy, but with those films, I am always able to pinpoint what it was I felt. They were cathartic experiences, they made me feel free.
Even disconcerting and widely confusing movie going experiences like Cats could be somewhat made sense of.
The Lighthouse reached into my being and made me feel something I don’t know how best to describe. The Lighthouse is transcendent and is the best thing I’ve seen in a long time. It is a masterpiece if you ask me.