Eggers’ horror is strangely similar to the isolation of the quarantine

The Channels Art Pages | ROD’S REVIEWS


Rodrigo Hernandez

Photo Illustration.

Rodrigo Hernandez, Arts & Entertainment Editor

The Lighthouse” is a horror film that eerily parallels today’s feelings of isolation and irritability while being set in the past. 

Taking place in the 1890s off the coast of New England, two lighthouse keepers are driven to insanity after the ship that was supposed to bring them back to the mainland never shows, with a mighty storm looming overhead. Loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Light-House” and a myth from the Smalls Lighthouse in Wales, Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson deliver captivating, and often terrifying performances, with both actors having a chance to shine frequently throughout. 

Shot on black and white 35 mm film, with the rare aspect ratio of 1.19:1, this homage to German expressionist and early cinema takes the viewer on a slow-burning yet hypnotic journey. The aspect ratio also adds to the atmosphere of claustrophobic conditions by making the characters appear literally boxed in. 

Everything from the old-school special effects with the seagulls, to the dramatic lighting and framing of characters is a love-letter to the prior days of film. 

Released in 2019, the movie is coincidentally relatable, in the sense that since staying indoors, we have all gone through the waves of emotions that come with being in one place for extended periods of time. Director Robert Eggers masterfully uses these emotions to drive the tension and sense of impending dread that permeates the film.

Although the actors and their performances are carrying the entire film, there are various points where the story comes to a grinding halt. Whether that is the editing or the consistently dark and gloomy aesthetic, oftentimes the film makes the audience feel like they are the ones going through the character’s circumstances.

However, the film works best when its actors are able to chew the scenery, with both Dafoe and Pattinson frequently stealing scenes. Dafoe’s never-ending nautical monologues also makes for great moments in the film, and showcases the amount of work and detail that went into the script. 

Besides some pacing issues, “The Lighthouse” stands out as an exceptional time-period piece compared to today’s horror market. The film is available on Kanopy. 

I rate it a 7/10.