The Lighthouse is a 2019 horror film co-written, produced, & directed by Robert Eggers (The Witch, The Tell-Tale Heart, Brothers, & Hansel and Gretel). It was originally loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe’s story of the same name but most of the source material was changed for the final version. The story is very loosely based on a real-life tragedy from 1801 called “The Smalls Lighthouse Tragedy”. It was co-written by Max Eggers (The Tell-Tale Heart). It was produced by Chris Columbus (Fantastic Four franchise, Harry Potter franchise, Pixels, & The Witch), Sophie Mas (Ad Astra, Call Me by Your Name, Love, & The Witch), Arnon Milchan (Heat, Fight Club, Natural Born Killers, Once Upon a Time in America, & Falling Down), & Michael Schaefer (Alien: Covenant, The Counselor, Child 44, & The Martian) for A24 Films (Under the Silver Lake, Climax, Uncut Gems, Tusk, Ex-Machina,The Witch, Green Room, The Lobster, Moonlight, Free Fire, Midsommar, Mid90s, & many others). A 70-foot working lighthouse was constructed specifically for the film, which according to the director it could shine for 16 miles. It had it’s world premier at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival. The budget was $4 million & it grossed $12 million worldwide at the box office!!!!
In the late 19th century, Ephraim Winslow (played by: Robert Pattinson from The Batman, High Life, Good Time, & Cosmopolis) is sent on a boat to serve a contract job as a wickie for four weeks on an isolated island off the coast of New England, under the supervision of an irritable elderly man named Thomas Wake (played by: Willem Dafoe from Spider-Man, Platoon, American Psycho, & Aquaman). On the first day of the job, Winslow notices a hole in his cot. As he digs into it, he finds a small scrimshaw of a mermaid & stuffs it in his jacket. Winslow observes Wake going up to the lighthouse’s lantern room at night & stripping naked. Winslow begins experiencing visions & dreams of tentacles in the lighthouse, tree stumps floating in the water. He sees distant images of a mermaid (played by: Valeriia Karamän). Over the course of his stay, Wake demands Winslow take the more taxing jobs like refueling the light, carrying heavy kerosene containers & disposing of the two men’s chamber pots. As the weeks progress, Winslow repeatedly encounters a one-eyed gull.
Wake warns Winslow that it is bad luck to kill a gull, as he is superstitious that the animals are reincarnated sailors. One night at dinner, the two get to know each other & discuss Wake’s previous second wickie, who Wake says died shortly after losing his sanity. Winslow reveals that he used to work in Canada as a timberman, but decided to change professions. The day before Winslow is slated to leave, he notices the water pump is releasing bloody water & investigates. The weather keeps getting worse & strange things keep happening around The Lighthouse. The two isolated men start to bond over the situation but the tension starts building up between them. Winslow haunted by the past confesses to Wake that his real name is Thomas Howard & that he assumed the identity of Ephraim Winslow (played by: Logan Hawkes), a timberman who died in an accident Howard failed to stop. They start to hate each other after spending all this time together. Both men start to lose their sanity plus they are running out of alcohol which makes things worse. Can these two get along enough to survive this disaster? or Will they try to kill each other before it’s all done????
Robert Eggers proves he has the balls to do anything when it comes to cinema. After the success of The Witch, he could do whatever he wanted next. Let’s be honest, it’s hard to sell a black & white film these days, I know so many people that refuse to watch anything without color. He went even further than that with this project, he filmed this with an old school aspect ratio (1.19:1) that no one does now. I can’t even tell you the last film that actually did this in recent years because it basically never happens. That’s a deadly combination when it comes to modern day movie fans but it actually performed good in theaters for it’s limited run. From the trailer, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one which I like because these days trailers give away everything before you get to see the actual feature. I will say that this is not your typical art house flick. The Lighthouse started out a little slow at first but it was worth the wait for it’s strong character development. This is basically a two person production so that puts so much pressure on the leads. Honestly, this is probably the best acting that I’ve seen all year long. Willem Dafoe & Robert Pattinson were top notch in this. The chemistry was incredible & both actors fed off each other which made it even better. The script kept you on your toes, the whole thing was mysterious up until the very end. It kept me guessing the entire time & the tension was nerve wracking during it. The Lighthouse had my eyes glued to the screen, it easily makes my top 10 list for 2019. The visual style, production design, & the overall atmosphere is on whole another level compared to others from this year, It could fall into several sub-genres but it has some wild images that easily make it fall into the horror category. I instantly want to revisit it soon because it’s one of those films that stays with you after your done with it. There’s so much more to explore to it. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Lionsgate! This 1080p (1.19:1) transfer is breathtaking! If you get a chance, look up the process they used to get the film to look this old & match the time it was set in. The cinematography from Jarin Blaschke (The Witch) is amazing here. The black & white really bring out every detail on this production. The visual style & production design are probably the best of 2019 to be real. The whole atmosphere really just draws you in for this crazy cinematic experience. The English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is fantastic. The dialogue is crystal clear, all the suspense is elevated, & the music has a killer boost to it. It also has English SDH & Spanish subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features from Lionsgate! “Audio Commentary” with co-writer & director Robert Eggers. He chats about putting together the film & writing the script with his brother. He brings up equipment used to shoot this production & the locations. They had build lots here & it goes over the production design. He talks about the cast & the experience filming this. He goes over a variety of scenes, he goes into great detail about The Lighthouse here. If you are looking for additional information for this feature, I highly recommend listening to this track. “The Lighthouse: A Dark & Stormy Tale” is almost 38 minutes. It’s broken down into three different segments which includes “Myths Behind the Madness”, “Enchantment in the Light”, & “Figments of Imagination”. It has interviews with director Robert Eggers, actors Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe, & various members of the production. Eggers chats about how the project got started & how he put together the cast for it. Dafoe told Eggers he wanted to work with him & this was the perfect opportunity. Eggers offered Pattinson a role for a different film awhile back but got turned down because it wasn’t weird enough. He knew this was the right script for him & he quickly accepted it. Both actors talk about being interested in the project & how they got involved with the production. They bring up the characters & performances. They go over the script & tone for the film. They mention the equipment plus film stock & visual style used to achieve the look of The Lighthouse. They mention the costume design & it shows a various pieces from the shoot. They get into great detail about the actual lighthouse &shooting in it. They say it was a very bright experience when it came to the lighting when filming. They chat about the chemistry between the leads & how original the film is. It has rehearsal footage. They talk about the sound design & how important it was to the production. This basically covers everything that you would want to know about this. This is a great companion piece with the commentary when it comes to knowledge about the feature. Four “Deleted Scenes” which includes Sweeping The Galley, Old Crying, Young Undressing & Galley And Sleeping Quarters that run a little over 5 minutes. Plus it has some Lionsgate related “Trailers” on it. It also comes with a slipcover & a digital code. It’s available everywhere on January 7th, CHECK IT OUT!!!!