Robert Eggers directs this chillingly intimate tale of two men sequestered on a tiny – and perhaps enchanted – Atlantic island. This atmospheric psychological thriller follows the slow descent into madness of two lighthouse keepers (Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson) on a remote New England island at the turn of the 19th century.
Charged with tending to a lighthouse for a four-week term, the taciturn Ephraim Winslow (Pattinson) spends his days toiling away with backbreaking upkeep, while during the nights it is only his elder cohort Thomas Wake (Dafoe) who is allowed to keep the beacon in operation. Growing weary of menial tasks, Ephraim’s curiosity regarding Thomas’ hours alone with the big light increases. But is it just fatigue and envy that cause Ephraim to become increasingly paranoid about the loitering seagulls, to the point where he’s visited by strange apparitions?
Shot by Jarin Blaschke on starkly beautiful black and white 35mm, The Lighthouse harkens back to the literature of Herman Melville while accruing a hallucinatory ambiance that feels entirely fresh. The film’s dark humour, hypnotic sounds, and ghostly imagery lure you in, but it’s Pattinson and Dafoe that will hold your attention. With truly unhinged performances from Pattinson, spellbinding with his bushy moustache, piercing eyes, and salty accent, and Dafoe, captivating as he goads his young mate to reveal his shadowy past, The Lighthouse veers into ever-darker waters.