The hypnotic and hallucinatory tale of two lighthouse keepers on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s.
Like his previous effort “The Witch,” director Robert Eggers continues to explore the notion that we are more likely to fall victim to our own demons when made vulnerable by our environment. Claustrophobic, eerie and rife with allusions to mythology and superstition, this is a horror film that bursts free from its genre conventions to become a treatise on our modern state of mind. Brilliant performances from Willem Dafoe, as an old seaman who knows more than he lets on regarding the lighthouse, and Robert Pattinson, as his put-upon subordinate whose curiosity ultimately clouds his good judgment, buoy this film as their antagonistic chemistry is a delight. The clever story is supported by dynamic black and white cinematography as well as other visual trickery that underscores the claustrophobic nature of the environment. One of the year’s best, this is the sort of intelligent film-making that’s all too rare and should be championed and cherished.
Eggers demonstrates incredible vision and talent in setting the tone and environment for psychological thrillers. The use of black and white with extreme attention to the details of camera angles, allowing us to see or not see what may or may not be happening creates the ultimate illusion and suspense. It’s a bizarre story that is completely engaging thanks to the incredible performances of Pattinson and Defoe. The tension and mystery of this lonely spot is accentuated with the dichotomy of positions between the two characters and with this, we anticipate what truth lies beneath the waves crashing upon the cliffs. Here’s where Chuck and I differ, much like “The Witch,” I was completely dissatisfied with the ending. Endings can make or break a film and this one was a total let down. I left the theater thinking, “I’ve been ‘scuppered’ again by Mr. Eggers.”