Home Page > Movies Index (w/mixed oldies) > > Movie Review

This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

The Working Stiff and the Old Fart

The Lighthouse (2019) on IMDb

Plot Overview

Back in the 1890s or thereabouts, Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) was a dyed-in-the-wool drifter (“I'd done every kind of work that can pay a man.”) Most recently he was a lumber­jack up in Hudson Bay where it is said a man works as hard as two horses. He's used to hard work, but he had a falling out with the fore­man; rather it was the foreman who did the falling … into a log­jam, no thanks to his disgruntled employee. Ephraim is not accruing any wealth from off and on subsistence wages, so his next gig, he decided, will be one that pays decently: as a rotating in and out (assistant) lighthouse keeper—called a wickie on account of the oil lamp's wick.

house on a hillHe is on a two-man crew in residence on a forlorn islet off the coast of Maine supporting a light­house, a keepers cottage, and a fog­horn hut. His opposite number is salty sea­farer Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe) whose leg injury left him unfit for sea duty, so he does light­house work instead. He'd mended in a nuns hospital where, “They were all Catholics.” His prolonged isolation from humanity, plus the earlier disciplined rigor of the nuns, plus the monarchy of a ship's captain before that left him a strict dis­ciplin­arian. He drove his former assistant mad.

Together these two form an odd couple with Thomas tending the fresnel lens light at night and doing the cooking by day while Ephraim does all the scut work under a heap of abuse. They are both used to their respective roles, so this arrange­ment suits them to a tee. They live communally in the keepers cottage rather than in separate mansions within it. Then a violent storm strikes the night before their relief is due, and all hell breaks loose.


old bookDear Abby advises people to take care what they put in writing as it's liable to show up in unexpected contexts and bite them. Thomas keeps a log­book that he treats like a diary for his personal thoughts. Ephraim is the only one there to write about, so he trashes him relent­lessly on page after page. Now, Ephraim has admitted to having murderous thoughts about his former fore­man, and he goes about torturing animals on the isle. He seems to take Thomas's verbal criticism in stride, but what would happen if he sees it in official looking writing?

(Prov. 30:33) “Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife.” There are no cows on the island, to be sure, but Ephraim does have to tote coal to heat the boiler for the steam engine to power the fog­horn that goes, "TOOT, TOOOT." You know the churning of that steam engine will produce those blasts.

Likewise when Ephraim punches Thomas on the nose, pow, pow, pow, we see blood. It's expected.

It may be that no official is ever going to read Thomas's log, and if one did, he'd hardly take it seriously, but Ephraim reading it on the sly doesn't know that. When he reads Thomas's recommendation that his assistant is so worth­less his pay should be forfeit, how could that not push him over the edge though he be a God fearing man?

Production Values

” (2019) was directed by Robert Eggers. It was written by Robert Eggers and his brother Max Eggers. It stars Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe, and Valeriia Karaman who all did a solid acting job.

MPAA rated it R for sexual content, nudity, violence, disturbing images, and some language. It was shot on 35 mm B&W film and projected with a (square) 1.19:1 aspect ratio to give it an old timey feel. The script was deliberately fractured to evoke the mental collapse of the protagonist, which at least confuses the audience, but the director is no Alfred Hitchcock. The dialogue is period perfect. It was filmed on Cape Forchu in Nova Scotia. Mark Korven con­trib­uted a very unsettling score, and Jarin Blaschke produced stunning cinematography.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

An action film this is not. The horror comes from within, which makes it doubly horrific. It's not for the faint of heart. On the good side you can jump to any scene without losing your place in the madness.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Good Late Night Movie. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.