Shrieking apocalyptic winds. Violent body-slamming waves. One beacon of light. And two men so convulsing with desire of its supernatural glow that they hurl themselves willingly off the edge of sanity to get it. But of course, there can only be one.
The much-hyped follow-up to his divisive 2015 debut feature The Witch, writer-director Robert Eggers is back with something even more insidious, warped and combustible, shot in black and white (for added shudder factor) on a coast at the end of the world.
Expect deranged seagulls. Octopus fisticuffs. And coitus with mermaids whose tails resemble big ol’ vulvas. Nightmarish, but utter cinematic heaven.
Read our breakdown of The Lighthouse…
WHAT: Robert Pattinson is surly horndog drifter-turned-assistant, Ephraim Winslow; Willem Dafoe, a gnarled alcoholic root of a lighthouse keeper, Tom Wake. Both harbour their own crafty agenda, and both unfurl in violent billowing ribbons as the alcohol runs out and the pair descend into madness on an ill-advised kerosene bender (don’t try this at home kids). And at the centre is the intoxicating beacon of light, locked away on the terrifying unknown peak of the lighthouse, calling, very much like a siren luring unsuspecting seamen to… well, whatever fate awaits them.
WHERE: Their beacon of light is on a jagged black cliff on a remote island in 1890s New England. But when a storm of Poseidon-level ferocity cuts off their supplies and obliterates their surroundings, stuff gets level 10 claustrophobic and bizarre.
STAR OF THE SHOW: It’s almost like Robert Pattinson has Google alerts set for obscure, independent A24 projects that contractually require him to be covered in human defecation or shoddy box-peroxide dye jobs. But this indie gem sees the actor deliver a damning monologue with such ferocity that his weather-worn moustache positively quivers with conviction. You could hear a pin drop in the cinema. And Dafoe is a crusty, hobbling, flatulent force that brings some quasi-comic lightness into scenes, especially with his Gollum-like obsession with the light.
WHO TO WATCH IT WITH: Probably not someone who’s been through a break-up recently. Or any other tumultuous life events that might leave them feeling particularly fragile. It’s a headfuck to say the least, and might leave them cry-shaking into their glass of wine.
STAND-OUT SCENE: There are many. The main one involving aforementioned big ol’ vulva tail. But the ending. The blinding, triumphant, wtf ending. It really is the one.
WATCH IF: You want to see Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe yo-ho-ho swirling in their worthy-of-worship career highs. Prepare to stumble into the pub after viewing, glassy-eyed, incapable of ordering even an ale because of all the involuntary stammering: “The- the- wha- the- ending!”
DON’T WATCH IF: You are averse to gore. And filth. And cackling cinematic genius.
WONDERLAND REVIEW: 4/5