The Lighthouse is a stark, atmospheric two-hander starring two of today’s finest working actors. Willem Dafoe stars as an 1890s lighthouse keeper and Robert Pattinson as his apprentice in a tale of madness and violence amidst storms, salt spray, the screeching of seagulls and the blaring of foghorns. Filmed in austere black and white in a fussily composed, boxy academy ratio, the new film from The Witch director Robert Eggers simultaneously nightmarish, hypnotic and hysterical.
Once again nodding towards supernatural forces while grounding his film in historical detail, Eggers repeats a trick from The Witch in his exclusive use of researched period language. Dafoe and Pattinson’s back and forth is florid and filthy. Drink figures heavily, as does masturbation, mermaid fantasies, and farts. So many farts. The actors have a fine track record in lending their industry weight to idiosyncratic voices and Eggers makes full use of their considerable talents. Some may find The Lighthouse oppressive, but its combination of claustrophobic menace and oddball delirium is a winning one.