Mark Cunliffe 🇵🇸’s review published on Letterboxd:
Is there much point writing about this? I mean, we've waited so long for it to arrive in UK cinemas that surely everything has been said now?
I could say that it seems to take its cue from the real-life Smalls Lighthouse incident of 1801 off the Marloes Peninsula in Pembrokeshire, which had previously inspired a film called, yup, The Lighthouse in 2016.
I could say that it's arguably Robert Pattinson's greatest performance to date but, to be honest, I haven't really seen an awful lot of films featuring him. I mean do I look like a Twilight fan?
I could say how much I enjoyed Willem Dafoe going right up to the line in terms of a rumsoaked Robert Newton performance, but also add that if he truly believes that's a Dorset accent he's doing, as he says, then he's mistaken. Dorset by way of Ireland maybe. But I hasten to add that he's in no way embarrassing himself here. It's a great performance and that roaming, strange dialect only adds to the enigma of his character and the film overall.
What I will say is that director Robert Eggers, who co-wrote the screenplay with his brother Max, has delivered a salty, poetic psychological chiller and black comedy that is without doubt the most intelligent and interesting 'horror' movie I have seen for some time. In many ways, The Lighthouse feels like a Herman Melville pastiche from Harold Pinter, or even Galton and Simpson. The relationship between its two stars - Dafoe's salty seadog and novice 'wickie' with a mysterious past, Pattinson - turns on a sixpence between a cheery, close comradeship and prickly, violent antagonism as befits how trapped and locked together the two men are in terms of their isolated situation and their deteriorating grasp on reality. This unnerving claustrophobia is enhanced by the use of Academy ratio, boxing and squeezing the two men in until breaking point.
I cannot praise Jarin Blaschke's black and white 35mm cinematography enough. Several shots look like vintage photographs from the period, whilst the lighting develops an expressionistic tone to the proceedings that pays off as the film gets stranger and weirder and reaches its disturbing crescendo.
It's not just the visuals that succeed in this film either, as sound designer Damian Volpe captures something truly evocative and uneasy with the incessant hooting foghorn as well as the howling winds and howling mania between our two leads. A deeply elemental and atmospheric movie, it's easy to see why The Lighthouse has garnered such praise. It was certainly worth the wait and I've a feeling I will be turning it over in my mind for many days to come.
And no one said 'Gonnae no do that' once. Bit disappointing.