The Lighthouse (2019)


The Lighthouse is now available to rent or buy

“Doldrums. Doldrums. Eviler than the Devil. Boredom makes men to villains, and the water goes quick, lad, vanished. The only med’cine is drink. Keeps them sailors happy, keeps ’em agreeable, keeps ’em calm..” – Thomas Wake (The Lighthouse)

As the waves batter an isolated rock and hungry gulls circle for their next meal, the beaming torch of the barnacled lighthouse safely guides travelling sailors through treacherous waters. Its thick stone walls are home to two wickies, prisoners of the sea, surrounded by empty bottles of booze and the thick smoke of pipes and roll-up cigarettes, both searching for meaning and purpose under the looming light. This is Roger Egger’s sublime tale of the sea, isolation and madness and undoubtedly one of the finest horrors of the past ten years. 

Following his 2015 masterpiece The Witch, Eggers’ nightmarish tour de force is a deliciously dark maritime horror bathed in shadows. Eggers’ movie is a dreamlike journey into human fragility, humour, ambiguity, confusion and fear that feels as weathered as the towering lighthouse at its heart.


Former lumberjack Ephraim Winslow (Patterson) arrives on the wind-battered shore of a small island for his new job as assistant wickie of an isolated lighthouse. His boss is a grizzled and rude old sea dog named Thomas Wake (Dafoe), who has little trust or respect for his new apprentice as he gives Ephraim the back-breaking jobs he can’t manage. As Ephraim toils, Wake’s only interest is the precious and protective light above them, a light he treasures, caresses and loves. However, as isolation takes hold, the men’s lives spiral out of control as they spend their days drinking, farting and smoking before entering a rabbit hole of fear and paranoia from which there is no escape. 


From the first scene to the last, The Lighthouse pays homage to a series of classic horrors, ranging from Nosferatu to The Cabinet of Dr Calligari, Psycho and The Shining. In what is, in essence, a two-person play, Patterson and Defoe’s performances are exhilarating and enthralling as they play off one another and explore the darkest corners of Robert and Max Eggers’ complex screenplay. The result is a mesmeric journey of secrets, lies, love, hatred and fear as both men search for meaning in a weather-beaten lighthouse that slowly becomes a mental and social prison.

Eggers The Lighthouse is a truly unforgettable and unique experience that carves an eternal place in your memory. In Eggers’ salty nightmare, you can almost taste the sea and smell the tobacco smoke and booze. The Lighthouse doesn’t need simple gimmicks or shocks; it relies on its performances, cinematography and screenplay to build a barnacle-clad prison for the viewer, one that is both enchanting and terrifying in equal measure. It is a modern filmmaking masterpiece that takes past cues to create a nightmare world of no escape for Ephraim, Wake and the audience.


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