This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
DopeAssGhost’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
THE LIGHTHOUSE (2019)
"Two lighthouse keepers try to maintain their sanity while living on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s."
Robert Eggers' sophomore film effort is part hallucinatory-visceral nightmare, part psychological horror-fantasy and like Knives Out (2019) received numerous praise from many critics on here and throughout the cinema-loving community that I respect.
So naturally, being an avid appreciative semi-fan of The Witch (2015), I expected this to be a solid film experience, one that upped Eggers' previous offer. But as quoted from the great, extremely late William Shakespeare, "Expectation is the root of all heartache." He's right. Growing up on Long Island, visiting the Montauk lighthouse more times than I can count and hearing all the many historic ghost stories & urban legends linked to it, I was hoping that The Lighthouse would carry itself with a predominant story that was at the least reminiscent of the various lighthouse folklore I've heard over the years. Alas, that wasn't the case as we get a more grounded, isolated story concerning two men, infinite madness, and an aura about it that felt almost Lovecraftian. Which was fine by me, I got pretty excited actually. But the overall execution and the directions it takes us especially after such build-up, well controversially speaking, I wasn't the biggest fan of. In fact, I thought the ultimate payoff we got by the time the credits rolled kind of sucked. Keep in mind, I did enjoy aspects of this film and don't think the entire movie sucked, I just am not as enticed by this film like most others are.
I will say what I loved most about it was the stark black-and-white 35mm cinematography that offered its own undeniably gorgeous hypnotic charm and almost evoked a German-Expressionist vibe. The production design in general is highly remarkable and the whole desolate island setting with the decrepit lighthouse aesthetic was very interesting to me. The two leads in Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe gave us literally maddeningly impressive performances. The seagulls getting their bloody vengeance at the very end was nice. And the entire established mood is eerie.
That being said, I personally felt that the movie was attempting to be the next Eraserhead (1977) or The Shining (1980) for the modern day, two arguably better films, but its flaw being that it stayed focused on being so saturated in influence it neglected having an intelligent, gratifying conclusion. I'm all for ambiguity but there's plenty of examples for when a movie has failed to give us that ambiguous ending that satisfies and I have to put The Lighthouse in that category. For me, anyway; anyone on here who got what they needed from the ending, that's great it just didn't resonate well with me. Except for the vengeful seagulls. Also, the first few times Dafoe farted, I laughed, but the continuous reliance on releasing bodily functions- be it passing gas, taking a piss, or ejaculating to visions of mermaids & tentacled monstrosities- just felt redundant. And the scenes where Pattinson makes Dafoe bark like a dog made me literally raise my hands and go, "What the fuck is this shit?"
The Lighthouse shows amazing technical talent from Robert Eggers and confirms he can make great atmosphere within his movies. But the story overall felt weak and there's just too much weird shit I didn't even like. Still, I'm interested to see what Eggers does with his eventual Nosferatu remake.