The magnificent of “The Lighthouse” lies on isn’t just an arthouse film or even a horror different from others. But, it’s a movie about fart jokes and yes, I love it. Robert Eggers put Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson to divide their respective roles, fight with their ego and passion, and try to stand up for self-esteem. At least, this is one of my most anticipated films from the director regardless of I love “The Witch“. “The Witch” becomes a phenomenal yet original horror film. It’s a movie that makes you want to watch more original works from a director too. And “The Lighthouse” is there to answer all of our expectations.
I can say if “The Lighthouse” is better than “The Witch”. Only, “The Lighthouse” discusses something new but also not infrequently we see in several media. If “The Witch” explores women and its empowerment, “The Lighthouse” tells the story of a man’s masculinity. The year is 1890, two men work to take care of the lighthouse on an isolated island. These two people are truly alone on a small island. They only have each moment to talk to each other. Ephraim Winslow just didn’t believe in Thomas Wake, the captain of the pirate ship parody with his sailor mouth and old English.
They have their respective duties. Winslow takes care of menial jobs during the day such as fishing, transporting fuel, and cleaning the house. Meanwhile, Wake is tasked with recording confidential reports and staying up late at night guarding flare lights in the tower. There is one place that cannot be approached by Winslow and that’s another rule made by Thomas. He must not see what is at the top of the lighthouse. Alcohol and hardships often occur. However, the conditions gradually intensified when they were trapped there as the storm hit. There were no people or ships to pick them up.
There is nonsense, mythological stories, superstition, fantasy, and others. Eventually, especially Winslow, they didn’t think about rules anymore (which there were no rules in the first place) and turned slowly crazy. “The Lighthouse” is a horror movie but not a typical scary horror. We always see jumpscare, satan’s cult, and others. And for most people, they will be disappointed. Not to mention, this black and white format makes people hesitate, or even don’t want, to watch this film. So, what’s the part of the horror then?
“The Lighthouse” feels strong when talking about psychological, metaphorical, and surrealism. There are so many terrifying images and odd things. A figment between real and imagination begins to coalesce from the protagonist. This movie reminds me how when there are no rules, you can do anything. It reminds me also of folklore about things you should not do. When you pass these rules, there are so many things you witness. You become hateful, annoyed, out of line with your friend, or what if your friend is not your friend? You don’t know any more or don’t even believe in yourself.
There is a moment where you don’t know from what point of view you watched this film. It’s gray, just like the black and white format. Paranoia isn’t just the protagonist. However, it’s inviting to feel and experience it, not just listen to it. And yeah, Oscar next year has a lot of competition from the best movie and best actors as well. Robert Pattinson as Winslow gave the best performance of his career as a character who drives insane into a psycho. His range is so vast and unique. At first, you see him as a quiet character and don’t like to talk much. However, you know what’s in his head.
Winslow has unreasonable theories about where he works, the Seagull, his colleagues, and of course, the lighthouse. He is so ambiguous and mysterious that you never know whether he is Winslow or not. The seeds of conflict between the two characters originate from Thomas, who never remained silent and always farted. Whether it’s shouting a sign if Winslow can’t take it anymore, he’s just resigned. Willem Dafoe with a sailor wannabe-style accent raunchy doesn’t appear as an honest person. He is manipulative sometimes and manages to control the ego and desire of the protagonist.
You normally can’t stand it when a friend is hiding something. Maybe not friends. The work you’ve done and the place that’s trying to isolate yourself. The man’s natural impulse to hold his passions somewhere and sanity no longer exists. Plus, you can’t stand your friend’s behavior. Thomas calls himself afraid because of witnessing crazy things from fantasizing about a mermaid and others. And these two people, I don’t know, are honest and who is lying.
Robert Eggers, in essence, pushed them both on the brink of madness. They don’t hold each other and they are trapped in a strange place isolated. The technical aspects of this film are so amazing. The editing, like the first opening sequence, reminds me of watching classic films. The sound design, the crashing waves, the roar of the engine, and the sound of the lighthouse in every single second, are just amazing. The black and white format and the aspect ratio, this movie is a period piece of film. It’s very strong, limited, but narrow. There is no color and the exposition isn’t too plastered through dialogue, in which the dialogue is minimal, but through an image.
“The Lighthouse” plays in an ambiguous zone. Either you sit where when you watch this film, you will get many interpretations. The film was inspired by true stories too, about two people who were trapped in Smalls Lighthouse in Wales in the 19th century. But, this movie also takes many references from Greek mythology stories, especially Prometheus, the son of Iapetus and Themis. But, I prefer to see this film, although it doesn’t hurt too, from the point of view without any knowledge. Watching this movie, without looking for the analysis or explained article, becomes more jarring and doesn’t just ruin the experience.
The movie is about anything but for me, it’s about two people who want to gain power. On their island of residence, there are no rules and no one else. Being on a flare is the most comfortable place ever because it is the safest place. At the top of the lighthouse, there are thousands of materials when you want to vent your lust. It’s the same with Winston’s fetish to tentacle and mermaid. He just couldn’t vent it directly but was only able to imagine it. I don’t know where it is, male lust and ego are sometimes very difficult to hold. Therefore, they sometimes become crazy and out of control when lust starts to overwhelm them.
I love this movie, who doesn’t? This movie doesn’t care about mainstream stories. It’s not a pretentious arthouse too. Just like “Parasite“, for me, “The Lighthouse” became a metaphorical and enjoyable arthouse experience. And yes, Robert Eggers has a weird sense of humor. It’s not a conventional horror but a horror film with a lot of meaning. Just experience its ambiguity but also don’t expect horror films in general.
5 out of 5 stars.