Review: The Lighthouse

Uncompromising work of art

Two loners get on each other's nerves in a captivating, and uncompromising, drama.

Published 10 August 2020 - 2:37 pm
The Lighthouse
Tor Aavatsmark

Robert Eggers (The Witch) has written and directed an intense drama set on a barren, desolate rocky island off the rugged coast of New England in the 1890s.

Old age collide with youthful enthusiasm

The old lighthouse is powered by the aging laughter bit of a sea urchin, Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe). He knows the peculiar lighthouse inside and out, and has worn out many a lighthouse assistant when Jyplingen Thomas Howard (Robert Pattinson) arrives on the island.


The two different gentlemen collide immediately, where Wake rules around with the green-collar and puts him to every conceivable shitty job, while he himself lovingly polishes his beloved lighthouse.

The evenings are spent in the cramped, miserable living room, around a small wooden table with staggering food and lots of home-burnt; all while Wake plays off old sailor tales, vulgarities and gets louder and louder while you and the bile are washed down with lukewarm alcohol.


The Lighthouse (Photo: Universal/Sony)

Drunkard and life lies

Howard is the quiet, enclosed type, who grits his teeth instead of opposing the lame, ravenous old man. When the drunk Wake starts tinkering with his past, it’s obvious that he’s on the run from something, at the same time Howard can not comprehend what it is Wake is hiding in the top of the lighthouse – and what really happened to his predecessor?

Eventually Howard gives in, trying to numb the monotony, the noise, the weariness and the increasingly annoying Wake with soothing alcohol – something that only escalates the already inflamed relationship and the men’s (?) Psyche.

Trapped hell

Eggers has made an incredibly claustrophobic and intense film, in which the drama takes place between only two people trapped in loneliness, desperation and growing madness. Who is the madman and where the madness comes from, he leaves an open question.

The mood is depressed, uncertain and strangely threatening from the first second. The whole thing is filmed in grainy black and white, with dim lighting and a clipped 4: 3 format; a format that almost pushes the two men together in the claustrophobic picture, without the opportunity to escape from each other or the lighthouse’s secrets and diffuse history.

The camera guidance is approachable and sucks us into the atmosphere, all while the room is filled with a howling fog clock, swearing, seagull screams and an increasing wind and sea spray.

Acting of another world

Dafoe is one of our definite favorite character actors, and has impressed us time and time again, in films such as Wild at Heart, Platoon, Antichrist and The English Patient. You should look for a more versatile actor for a long time, and in The Lighthouse he delivers one of his strongest roles.

The old sea otter with wooden legs and more gorges than the seven seas can carry, has a language and an appearance that makes Captain Ahab appear like a sane Pentecostal friend. Dafoe brings out the bitterness, loneliness and biting bile in the old, furrowed man in an exemplary way, without a hint of either facts or overplay.

Robert “Twilight” Pattinson, on the other hand, has not exactly been at the top of our cast, but here he shakes off his past and emerges as a quality actor. The interaction between the two gentlemen is so intense, trembling and like a shaking barrel of gunpowder that we sit on the edge of the sofa in excitement.

Eggers conveys the madness and irritation between the men in a subtle and believable way, without special effects and creative cut / filming, very close to a dogma film.

The action is extremely strange and the film is relentlessly uncompromising, which is guaranteed not to appeal to everyone. Some scenes could have been cut down a bit, but this unique horror holds more than enough for 5 sparkling drama horror stars.

The Lighthouse


  • Blu-ray
  • Release: June 8, 2020
  • Directed by Robert Eggers
  • With: Willem Dafoe, Robert Pattinson, Valeriia Karaman
  • Genre: Drama
  • Country: Canada
  • Year: 2019
  • Time: 1:49 p.m.
  • Score: 5
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