Thomas Griffith (Mark Lewis Jones) and Thomas Howell (Michael Jibson) are two men, one a former brawler and one a religious man with a dark past respectively, charged with keeping a Welsh lighthouse up and running on a small isolated rock of an island in 1801. Neither man likes the other too much so that makes things a bit rough, but nothing compared to what happens when a big ass storm (official meteorological term if ever there was one) leaves them stranded on the island for weeks longer than their provisions could provide for. What do they do to compensate, why drink their asses off and begin to slide down the slippery slope of complete batshit lunacy…then an event occurs that makes things get impossibly more out of control.
Just to get it out of the way; if you are expecting over-the-top thrills and chills with The Lighthouse, you definitely are going to come away disappointed. This is basically two men, in a room, sharing experiences, aggravations, questions of theology and morality…sometimes only sharing body language and posturing that in itself speaks volumes without a word being uttered. Now make no mistake, there are elements of strong psychological terror, but it’s a slow burn to get there and the entire affair hangs on the more than capable shoulders of Actors Jones and Jibson who bring an amazing amount of gravitas to their respective roles that really manages to hold the audiences’ attention (good thing too as these dudes are most of what we get for the entire run time). Also adding to the overall aesthetics and atmosphere of the piece is the lighthouse itself, a storm and fog ravaged structure realized through a combo of excellent set construction and CG (for the exterior environments)…it’s a hard, imposing structure that becomes a character and figure of dread in and of itself.
On the down side, if you don’t dig on some heavy theological elements, this may not be the film for you. I’m not of a religious bent, but I felt the material was important to the overall story (not to mention the time period it is set in), and therefore didn’t mind it at all…but I know some of you cats get your knickers in a twist over such things, so there you are.
To put a bow on it; The Lighthouse is a slow but effective psychological thriller that is well acted and makes excellent use of it’s setting, ambiance, and storytelling to give the audience some philosophical questions to ponder among the terror.
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