The Lighthouse (2019) a (mildly) belated review

Continuing on with the films I saw while flying (part 1, Starcrash, is here), after a 4-5 hour delay in getting into our airplane for a 2 and 1/2 hour trip, once we settled in I pulled out my trusty iPad and considered the next film to see. I decided on The Lighthouse, the critically loved 2019 film directed by Robert Eggers and co-written with his brother Max. Here’s the movie’s trailer:

This is Robert Eggers’ second film following the also critically loved 2015 film The Witch, which (no pun intended) I haven’t seen yet.

How did I like The Lighthouse? So much so that I immediately purchased a digital copy of The Witch and, as time allows, I fully intend to watch it as well. It isn’t often I’m so blown away by a film that I wind up seeking out the director’s previous work to check it out as well!

The Lighthouse is a relatively “small” film. There are two actors/characters who take central stage: Robert Pattinson’s Thomas Howard and Willem Dafoe’s Thomas Wake. A third actor, Valeriia Karaman, also appears in the film but I won’t spoil her role for those who haven’t seen the film.

The plot is simplicity itself: Howard and Wake arrive at a wind-strewn island to take over the lighthouse on it for a few weeks. Thomas Wake is a crusty man whose life is the lighthouse while Thomas Howard is a novice. This is his first shift at the lighthouse and, over time he, as well as the more experienced Wake, appear to lose their grip on reality.

Or do they?

I truly don’t want to get into too many SPOILERS because the film is incredibly surprising as it plays out. While on the surface it appears to be a “horror” film, it really is not. There are some uncomfortable scenes and eerie happenings, but the film’s primary goal isn’t to scare you.

Indeed, if anything there are more laugh out loud scenes in the film than those that will make you squirm in your seat as the two Thomases face off against each other. At times their relationship gives off homoerotic vibes, but they’re not overt. At other times they are fierce rivals, the young one who wants to supplant the older one, the older one who envies the young one’s energy. At times, there are hints of Lovecraftian horror, of weird things happening just outside our view and deep within the shadows.

As their time together extends, the two Thomases share -perhaps overshare- who exactly they are and what they’re up to. Wake is possessive of the lighthouse itself and will not allow Howard inside, while Howard longs to see what exactly lies up there… and whether he can take over.

Did I mention the film has several laugh out loud scenes?

Truly this is what amazes me even now about the film: It is incredibly funny at times. I read someone mention the film was like a homosexual rom-com and while I don’t think that’s totally true, the humor in the film is there and it is quite robust.

I’ve already noted that I loved the film so much I picked up the director’s first work and very much intend to watch it as soon as possible, so its obvious I highly recommend this film.

But going into it, I would urge anyone who does to check up on the mythology of both Proteus and Prometheus. The later’s myth, in particular, makes The Lighthouse’s ending make complete sense.

What are you waiting for? Go see The Lighthouse!