Somewhere deep in The Lighthouse, past all the farts and long, rambling speeches, you realize that – this isn’t going to be scary. It always threatens to be, like a lurking cat, but then it saunters off, leaving you to wonder why you felt any dread at all.
Off the coast of New England, a lonely lighthouse is manned by two men. Their names don’t matter. One is young, one is old. Both have secrets. Secrets that eat at them, that flavor every action they take, and every interaction they have. They can’t escape themselves, they can’t escape each other.
The Lighthouse is first and foremost a beautiful film. There’s something so gorgeous about black and white lighting in dark, intimate spaces. It increases both dread and comedy. And I love the choice of filming in a “square” format. It makes it feel like we are reading the diary of one of these men long after they’ve passed. Coupled with pretty amazing performances, especially from Dafoe, The Lighthouse is at least watchable.
But once you sit through a plot that dances around anything concrete, you know that it’s all one big metaphor for….something. Film critics, insert your own psychological diagnosis here. I expected Shutter Island, I got a Greek tragedy without any gods. The film’s creepy setting and rather fun dialogue undercut the encroaching horror with some out loud laughter from the theater audience. Even the final scene, a disgusting last shot, had me giggling for some reason. Perhaps it was Dafoe’s insane speeches like Captain Ahab running for president. Or maybe it was watching Robert Pattinson try to masturbate to a mermaid. Who knows? As usual, the critics are eating it up. But I found myself wanting to be more scared, more terrified. But instead I was just left a little bit weirded out. Would watch again five times before watching Uncut Gems though.
2 out of 4 stars