The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse ★★★★½

THE LIGHTHOUSE was made by Robert Eggers, who apparently was drunk on sea water while filming this gothic nightmare, and who also sauced the entire cast and crew on a woozy brew of maritime ale. There's no other explanation to translate what's happening here. It lives almost entirely on pure expressionism, reaching into those old folktale superstitions of Melville, Lovecraft, and Milton's "Paradise Lost," letting you drink in the delirium by the handfuls till you start hallucinating the weirdest shit. Howling noises and supernatural forces are at play. Terrifying visions and erotic fantasies are born from a sense of cabin fever. At one point it's like watching the horror version of Waiting for Godot: these cartoon, pirate-like sailors have been trapped in hell for eons duking it out, jealously competing for the salvation that emanates from the light atop the tower. At another point it's like watching an old school B-movie done arthouse-style, filled with tentacles and nefarious sea creatures that vie for the sanity of these characters' last hope. 

As you continue to pale green from gulping the sea water, you'll keep sinking deeper and deeper into Egger's dizzying broth of aquatic madness. Waves will crash all around you and birds will scream in your ear. The rain will ferociously beat down and assault you, making you wonder if this is really just a film about man versus the elements, man versus nature. Eggers apparently let Béla Tarr on set to illuminate the frame with his bleakest, most desolate shores and vistas, captured in eerie monochrome splendor. You'll take in the dreary imagery, get tipsy, sing songs, and dance wildly to stave off the creeping sense of SHINING-esque isolation, but it's all just a ruse to forget that the world around you is slowly collapsing. 

If this is limbo, you'll need the light. You'll need that intense infatuation with those luminous upper-decks. You'll be drawn to that mysterious glow like a moth to a flame, searching in vain for something —anything —to yield enlightenment, salvation, deliverance, etc.. If I were you, I wouldn't count on Eggers saving you from this brutal fable. Told with old timey imagination, teeming with scary seafare mythology, THE LIGHTHOUSE is one of those rare urban legends that delivers a mood to dwell in, and hallucinations to get drunk on. It doesn't make sense analytically, yet your gut always tells you that what you're watching is the stuff of nightmares. Let it slither and coil around your subconscious. A fitting film for the spooky season.


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