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The Lighthouse

by Hans A. Carpenter

Release Date: October 18

Rating: R

Director: Robert Eggers

Starring: Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe

Mister Marquee Says: LEGENDARY

Number: 5/5

Winslow (Robert Pattinson) is contracted for a four-week stay at an isolated lighthouse with grizzled Wickie Wake (Willem Dafoe). As the two men get on each other’s nerves, they start to slip into drunken madness. There are so many crazy elements coming together.

The Lighthouse was shot on 35mm film and in black and white. Between those technical quirks, the score, the period costumes and some great set design, the period setting really comes to life. This of course from Robert Eggers, the director of The VVitch who went through the effort of constructing period-appropriate dialog from puritan diaries in his debut. I loved The VVitch. I love The Lighthouse more. With its deep shadows and dark, gothic setting, The Lighthouse would fit in perfectly with German Expressionist movies like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari or Nosferatu. At the same time, it features a surprising amount of humor that lands pretty consistently along with nightmarish visuals straight of out of sea lore. Add to those visions a dose of Greek mythology, an ambiguous plot, an unreliable narrator, bonkers acting, and an otherworldly tone, and you have a completely unique brew that flat out works and will be like nothing else you’ll see at the cinema this year.

If you go in expecting traditional Halloween popcorn horror, this isn’t what you seek. It’s a very tense movie, and it certainly has an unsettling tone, but it’s not a fun ride, and it’s nothing of what a lot of horror buffs are looking for in their genre fare. It’s marketed as horror, and it’s definitely in the psychological horror family, but The Lighthouse really has so much going on that it defies genre, other than to simply dub it “artsy.” It definitely is not for everyone, but it is for me.

Willem Dafoe is one of my favorite actors, and I still found myself utterly blown away by his performance. This is the best I’ve ever seen him, and this is one of Hollywood’s most consistently awesome character actors we’re talking about. Robert Pattinson is absolutely marvelous too, and to anyone who still wants to complain about his casting as Batman on the basis that he was in a sexy vampire movie once, go look at this performance. LOOK AT IT! This is some of the finest acting I’ve ever seen, and certainly Oscar worthy. The vast majority of the movie is just these two guys locked in a hut on a creepy remote island in the fog, with period dialog that wildly swings between insane monologs, comedy, and intensity.

This is one of the best, if not the best, films of the year. I’ll go so far as to call it a masterpiece.

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