Steve G 🇵🇸 🇾🇪’s review published on Letterboxd:
The film that I was immediately reminded of when watching The Lighthouse was the Russian film How I Ended This Summer.
In Alexey Popogrebsky's film, two scientists are tasked with the collection of weather data on a small, isolated Russian island in the Arctic Circle. Tensions rise and some.... stuff happens. Not quite as loopy as the stuff that happens in Robert Eggers' film, but let's just say they don't get on.
Where the two films share a particular common bond is in terms of the dynamic between the two sets of men. To the point where I wonder if Eggers was actually inspired by Popogrebsky's film, by way of a bit of Harold Pinter, perhaps. Both films have a senior / junior dynamic, with the former in both cases being immediately on the offensive in terms of who's in 'charge'.
The two then diverge in The Lighthouse's leaning on themes that at the very least hint at the supernatural and fantastical. They still share some parallels along the way, and I do recommend How I Ended This Summer as a companion piece to The Lighthouse, or just in general as I actually enjoyed slightly more even than Eggers' splendid film.
It's been a long old wait to see this, too. A full four months after it was released in the USA, A24 had finished creating memes about it on their official Twitter and turned their attention to Uncut Gems long before we finally got it. A pretty telling show of how much respect they have for non-American audiences at that company, a real shame that they have a borderline contempt for non-Yanks considering the consistently interesting films they back.
That being said, it's genuinely delightful, back-to-back with another we've had to wait a while for over here, Parasite, to see a film which fulfils pretty much all that I had hoped for from it. It's very much my sort of thing, this sort of solitudinal (duotudinal would be more accurate) tale but stirring in some alarming imagery and an unexpected self-awareness of Willem Dafoe's "Captain Ahab bullshit" really took it up an extra step.
Quite how long Eggers can keep up with this kind of period psychological horror I suppose will be dictated by whatever he chooses to make next. But coming off the back of The Witch, he has made two of the most singular horror films of the century so far. Quite whether there's a lighthouse horror boom ready to be sparked like he sparked a folk horror boom off his debut also remains to be seen. Either way, they also won't be as good as this so you need not bother, directors.
Also, an absolute treat to finally see Robert Pattinson in a good film. We got there in the end, lad!