Blu-ray Review: The Lighthouse (2019)

STUDIO: Lionsgate | DIRECTOR: Robert Eggers | CAST: Willem Dafoe, Robert Pattinson, Valeriia Karaman
RELEASE DATE: Jan. 7, 2020 | PRICE: DVD $12.99, Blu-ray $17.99
BONUSES: commentary, featurette, deleted scenes
SPECS: R | 110 min. | Horror fantasy | 1.19:1 | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio  | Video  | Overall 

The latest effort from Robert Eggers (The Witch) is a saga set in a decrepit New England lighthouse in the late 19th century. It’s there where veteran lighthouse keeper and salty sea dog Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project) shares the space with Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson, Damsel), a novice “wickee” on his first assignment.

The tight innards of the structure, incessant boozing of the two men and the eerie solitude of the location tighten the tension between the monitors as they await the end of their month-long assignment.

The Lighthouse is virtually plotless but far from incident-free. Lots happens, including Winslow’s unnerving altercation with a seagull, the appearance of a mermaid (debuting model Valeriia Karaman) and a booze-fueled psychological and physical tango between the two men that tests their loneliness, manliness, emotional well-being and even their sexuality.

Like The Witch, Eggers shoots the film in glorious black black-and-white and presents it in the silent film-like ratio of 1.19:1, which makes the picture seem at times like a bleak photo essay shot in a different era. And like his acclaimed first film, Eggers relies on authentic period vocabulary and natural sounds (it’ll take you awhile to get the seagull out of your system) to bring even more authenticity to the proceedings.

Essentially a two-hander, The Lighthouse depends on the performances of its principals to succeed in its difficult roles, and an Oscar nod-worthy Dafoe and Pattinson turn in masterful work. They get the difficult period dialogue perfect and score in the raw physical moments, which includes lots of sneering, sweating and nonchalant wind-breaking.

Is this a horror movie? In the broadest sense, yes, but not like one that horror fans have ever seen before…

Terrific reviews (despite mixed audience response), a surprisingly wide theatrical release of ultimately 700 theaters and Eggers’ name-recognition from The Witch helped The Lighthouse bring in $11 million at the box office. Expect this one to be a beacon to adventurous film fans.

Buy or Rent The Lighthouse (2019)

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.