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The Lighthouse, starring Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, is not a remotely pleasant viewing experience.

Eric Chakeen/A24 Pictures via AP

  • The Lighthouse
  • Directed by Robert Eggers
  • Written by Robert Eggers and Max Eggers
  • Starring Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe and some birds
  • Classification R; 105 minutes

rating

Four weeks in an isolated seaside environment with only a rugged Robert Pattinson for company? Sounds like a tempting vacation, were it not for the murderous birds, a crazed-looking Willem Dafoe, a mysterious black ooze and frequent appearances by what may or may not be a vampiric mermaid. But so goes the captivating gonzo madness of The Lighthouse, Robert Eggers’s over-the-top follow-up to his 2015 horror sensation The Witch.

Reviews of movies opening this week, including the anti-hate satire Jojo Rabbit, suffocating The Lighthouse and sentimental Pain and Glory

Trading the terror of folklore for the horror of isolation, Eggers sticks his finger in your eye for 105 minutes with this black-and-white thriller about two lighthouse keepers working off the coast of New England (actually Nova Scotia) circa 1890. The corncob pipe-smoking sea veteran Thomas (Dafoe) has no love for his younger assistant Ephraim (Pattinson), and the food, chores and ambience are beyond dreadful. But the real problem for both men is when a storm extends their duties indefinitely, and a certain roommate-from-hell madness sets in.

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Shot in a boxy and suffocating 1.19:1 aspect ratio and fixated on the dirtier aspects of human toil, The Lighthouse is not a remotely pleasant viewing experience. Yet, the sensation of watching Pattinson and Dafoe, two very different performers who thrive off playing diametrically opposed characters, slowly drive each other to the physical and mental brink is a difficult experience to shake off. You will be dreaming of beards, seagulls, blinding light and tentacles (so many tentacles!) for days. Consider that a warning, or an enticement.

The Lighthouse opens Oct. 25

Horror filmmaker Robert Eggers built a lighthouse from scratch in Cape Forchu, N.S., for 'The Lighthouse.' The film stars Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe as lighthouse keepers in New England in the 1890s. The Canadian Press

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