Rich Pickings on The Lighthouse
Director Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse is a psychological horror par excellence the likes of which we have not seen since Polanski’s Repulsion or Kubrick’s The Shining. It is a two-handed set on a small island with lighthouse alone amongst the bleak rocky scenery. Eggers brings out remarkable performances from William Dafoe as the overbearingly bossy Tom Wake and Robert Pattinson as his much-abused lackey Winslow.
It benefits from a haunting soundtrack by Damian Volpe and Mark Corven who use location sounds (like the eerie fog horn) and compositions that are seriously scary and surreal. The dark and brooding cinematography of Jarin Blaschke in stark monochrome also contributes greatly to the atmosphere of the piece.
But it is the script and the two performances that really bring the horror home. Also our heads are played with when we see flashes of sea monsters, sirens, corpses and other things that go bump in the night. And Winslow is gradually pushed further and further into the depths of madness and psychosis which Wake does much to worsen.
They drink when it seems their time together is nearly done but any relief is foiled by a wicked storm. Even in the midst of the tempest Winslow is forced to do demeaning and pointless tasks that push him to the brink.
No spoilers here but suffice to say the denouement is violent and apocalyptic with life as we know it on the island come to a horrific end.