Film Review: The Lighthouse expands upon director Robert Eggers’ unique visual style in this gripping tale

In his sophomore film The Lighthouse (2019), Robert Eggers once again proves himself as a visually groundbreaking director with a distinct style and an obvious passion for his work.

Egger’s debut film, The Witch (2015), was a period-piece psychological horror story with a pervasive feeling of isolation, and a talented cast portraying a family slowly growing to distrust each other. Eggers’ extensive research and unmatched detail put into the depiction of 1630s New England in regards to costume design, set design, and even the character’s dialects all came together to form one of my favorite movies of 2015.

So when I heard that Eggers’ second film The Lighthouse would release publicly in October after premiering at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival in May, I was, to say the least, very excited. 

Once the wait for the public release was finally over I dragged my parents along with me to go see it. While walking into the theater I just hoped that Eggers’ would live up to the expectations he set with The Witch. Walking out of the theater, I had two thoughts.

Firstly, I thought to myself, “what did I just watch?” My second thought was that The Lighthouse is easily one of the most visceral, captivating, and profoundly disturbing movies I have ever seen. The Lighthouse stars Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson as lighthouse keepers named Thomas Wake and Ephraim Winslow respectively.

The entire movie rests upon these two actors, and both Dafoe and Pattinson give career-defining performances.

At first glance, Dafoe plays a stereotypical drunk old sailor, and he serves as a direct foil for Pattinson’s character. Dafoe has multiple extensive memorable monologues during the film, which often appear comedic at first, but as the monologue keeps going, and as he becomes unable to control his anger, the tone shifts from comedy to horror. The audience in the theater laughed at first, but by the time the monologue was finished, everyone was silent.

Pattinson, on the other hand, plays a quiet and apprehensive man whose guilt and interactions with Dafoe’s character cause his veneer of sanity to slowly unravel.

The Lighthouse is currently my favorite film of 2019, and while it is not for everyone, its creative filming techniques, impeccable attention to detail, and masterful performances make this a memorable and worthwhile horror film.