TIFF ’19: The Lighthouse

Starring Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, The Lighthousevfollows the journey of Winslow (Pattinson) and Wake (Dafoe), two lighthouse keepers, who try to maintain their sanity while living in isolation on a remote island off the coast of Maine. Tightly written and directed by Robert Eggers (The Witch), The Lighthousevis a fascinating piece that feels like a throwback to classic post-War noir films. Unlike most modern horror films that insist on bombarding the senses, the film is a slow descent into madness highlighted by strong performances from its cast and a striking visual style. Shot on black and white 35mm film, Lighthouse echoes classic Hitchcock films like Psycho and Rear Window by allowing its characters to slowly lose themselves to their circumstances. What?s more, by shooting in a 1:19 : 1 ratio, the film visually reinforces the claustrophobic atmosphere between the two leads as they battle for screen presence. 

Through its visuals and narrative, Lighthouse is most intent on exploring whether one can ever truly escape their own darkness. Despite Winslow?s desire to return home and start over, the evil around (and within) them continues to grow, giving failure a sense of inevitability. For Winslow, hope becomes a boat that may never reach him as the sea grows angrier.

Filled with psychological terror and bold imagery, The Lighthouse shines brightly. Caught in the grip of a pseudo spiritual enemy, Winslow and Wake fight and claw for supremacy against elements and each other. 

The Lighthouse is currently playing at the Toronto International Film Festival. Upcoming screenings can be viewed here.

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