From the opening scenes, The Lighthouse gives you a sense of impending doom. The stark surrounds and black and white presentation bubbles over with things just slightly awry. The setting is bleak and forbidding and the feeling of isolation is pronounced. The slowly evolving sense of the unexplained make the horror to come feel that much more unsettling.
Two lighthouse keepers, Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe) and Thomas Howard (Robert Pattinson) share the duties of keeping a lighthouse located on a small and isolated island operational. Their daily grind is harsh and almost overwhelming. As the story progresses more and more crazy sets in until you feel the two men becoming increasingly unhinged.
Dafoe is fantastic as the grizzled old man with a wonderfully cadenced delivery and a timeworn sea tale for every occasion. Pattinson surprisingly holds his own as the new recruit Howard. The tensions between the two grow as the solitude of the location leaches away their civility and sanity in equal parts. It’s this escalation of hostilities that underlines the feeling of unease.
Building to an unexpected climax, The Lighthouse keeps its aura askew unit the very last frame. This all feels like a triumph over the cliche. There is humour amid the darkness and this all culminates in an abstract but totally suitable end. Add this one to the list of must see films to expand your mental database of 2020 movies.