burny’s review published on Letterboxd:
Visceral, gritty, disturbing and beautiful. The film is like nautical Shakespeare. From the very first shot I was hooked and by the end of the show, I was speechless and immediately wanted a second helping. It entrances you like a sea siren and slowly pulls you beneath the waves.
This solidifies Robert Eggers as one of the most creative and brilliant filmmakers of our time, and excites me for anything he may create in the future. Eggers masterfully pours his soul out in every tiny detail of this film and manages to capture you right away in the opening frames of the film. It feels like a classic horror picture, and yet something new at the same time. In many respects it seems to ascend the medium it was created for, becoming something more like an experience, and yet manages to capture you from beginning to end, transporting you to an eerie, dirty, wet and cold rock that keeps you on the edge of your seat, drooling with anticipation.
The cinematography was haunting and crisp. The gorgeous landscape shots of the lighthouse, the island and the ocean where mesmerizing, but equally so were the personal and raw closeups of the two characters. The score was bellowing, like the ocean storm and bone chilling, setting a wonderfully eerie pace for the film. The black and white medium created for some bold and dramatic lighting that fit the tone of the film perfectly.
Part of what makes the film so intensely raw and incredible is the knockout performances from both Pattinson and Dafoe. Pattinson delivers an (I'll admit) surprising take on a lost and drifting tormented soul, his range is incredible and he easily allows the audience to get inside his head. Dafoe performs as if he is on stage, powerfully bellowing an unforgettable role that will surely go down as one of, if not his greatest performances. He sells the part of the drunken old sailor so well that it makes you wonder if he isn't actually his character. The two actors together create a force that is more violent than the ocean storm, and you can't take your eyes away.
While the film is certainly not for the faint of heart, I could not recommend seeing it more, whether you are a lover of cinema, horror, or someone who enjoys a good film from time-to-time, there is something in this film for anyone with the stomach for some brutal and mesmerizing fun.