“The Lighthouse” depicts insanity in the face of isolation

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Drew Ruppel, Staff Writer

  The movie The Lighthouse is a tale about two lighthouse keepers struggling to maintain their sanity while living on an island in the middle of the ocean. These unique aspects drag the viewer into the characters’ delusions throughout the film. 

   The Lighthouse was released in 2019 by A24 and directed by Robert Eggers. It stars Willem Dafoe as Thomas Wake and Robert Pattinson as Ephraim Winslow, two lighthouse keepers (one seasoned, one new respectively) tasked with maintaining a lighthouse on a remote island with the worst weather conditions humanly possible for four weeks. It is also worth mentioning that we see about five characters max in the entire film, and it’s completely in black and white. 

    With a plot like this, you’d think it would be boring, but I assure you that this isn’t the case. As the movie goes on, we find the two main characters grow more and more unhinged and boozed up to the point that not even the audience can decipher what is real and what isn’t and is only a result of the two characters’ mental deterioration. 

     One thing that you’ll quickly find out about these two knuckleheads is that they are both kinds of insufferable. Thomas Wake is a complete archetype of an old sailor as if the painting in the Spongebob intro was a fleshed-out character. He is usually seen screaming at Winslow for not doing his chores around the island perfectly while he on the other hand basically does nothing for the entire movie. Winslow, on the other hand, is a liar, as well as pretty shady. He always seems to not want to deal with Wake and the lighthouse and is revealed to not have the best past although I can’t go into specifics due to spoilers. 

     One of the main conflicts we see in the movie is between Wake and Winslow over the work that Winslow has to perform. It starts out as Winslow whining like a little baby about having to shovel coal or whatever but quickly devolves into bi-polar interactions between the two characters, such as full-on fistfights juxtaposed by dancing to sea shanties and slow dances, all of which are fueled by a slowly depleting food supply, their slowly slipping mental states, and an unidentified form of hard liquor. 

     I would be a really bad reviewer if I didn’t mention a very big part of this movie, that being the characters’ near intimate attraction to the light coming from the lighthouse. Throughout the movie we see Wake up at the lighthouse at night, just staring at the light, naked. Now I’m not one to put down someone for their hobbies, but Wake is seen doing this more than doing, you know, his actual job. We also quickly see Winslow fall for the light as well, begging Wake to let him go to the lighthouse more and more as he slips further into insanity with Wake denying him until the very end. 

     This movie is one of the most unique horror movies I’ve ever seen. It truly drags you into the insanity these characters are experiencing, both with trippy visuals of mermaids and sea monsters and a character contradicting what you may have just seen in the previous scene by describing what happened as totally different. It does an incredible job in making the viewer experience some of the delusions the characters are having while not making the movie hard to follow in the process. The idea of two men going insane due to being alone with each other for too long is a very interesting concept, at least to me, that is executed very well in this film. I’d also like to mention the ending, which made me want to watch the movie in the first place. It’s a disturbingly unique ending that can be interpreted in a million different ways. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I enjoy the uncertainty of it and had fun watching a bunch of videos trying to explain it after my initial viewing. 

    So, would I recommend The Lighthouse? I would; if you want to experience a psychological horror film like no other. It is rated R, and the scenes that warrant that rating are the most disturbingly confusing scenes that have ever scraped my cornea. I’m positive that it isn’t for everyone, but it will absolutely be unlike anything you’ve seen before it, and if you’re into all that weird, outlandish stuff, I think you’ll enjoy it.

4/5 Paws