FANS of Robert Eggers’ masterful The Witch may look at the star rating for this film and wonder where it all went wrong.
It hasn’t, really. This is very good but so incomprehensibly dense in places, you might ask why you bothered in the first place.
Shot in stark but beautiful monochrome, with the frame restricted to an old TV-style ratio, this is an artsy psychological horror about two salty lighthouse keepers (Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson).
Stranded when a storm hits, they regale each other with stories of mermaids and folk legend, slowly going insane along the way.
Their abusive working relationship (fuelled by mixing their own booze from turps and honey) and an act of near-sacrilegious violence brings the simmering tension to a grisly, chilling climax. A lot of the running time is puzzling, arthouse guff that will test your patience. But when it bares its teeth, The Lighthouse is a bit of a treasure.
Pattinson is fantastic (I am yet again reminded that TWO of today’s finest actors hail from the terrible Twilight saga) and casting him opposite Dafoe is genius.
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Surreal, confusing, funny and shocking, it does not entirely succeed.
But there is more than enough here to merit a visit.