Tag Archives: Robert Eggers

The Lighthouse (2019) Review

Time: 109 Minutes
Cast:
Willem Dafoe as Thomas Wake
Robert Pattinson Ephraim Winslow
Director: Robert Eggers

Two lighthouse keepers (Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson) try to maintain their sanity while living on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s.

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The Lighthouse was one of my most anticipated films of 2019. The Witch is one of the best horror movies of recent years, and so I was naturally interested in whatever writer/director Robert Eggers would do next. While I didn’t know too much about his next movie outside of the initial brief premise, his involvement along with the leads of Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson had me intrigued. I only grew more interested in the movie as trailers came out, hinting at a dark and bizarre little horror movie. Having finally seen it, I’m glad to say that The Lighthouse is yet another excellent film from Eggers, and one of the best from this year.

At an hour and 50 minutes, The Lighthouse just entrances you from start to finish, even when early on it’s a little slow until it reaches a certain point. Even with the slow pacing, I was fully invested. The dialogue is very well written and authentic to the time period. This movie is also surprisingly darkly hilarious at many points, I didn’t expect it to be as funny as it was. It’s actually hard to pin down this movie to just a single genre, it’s a horror, a comedy, a thriller, and more. There’s a lot of things in this movie in depth that can be analysed, the most obvious being power, masculinity, and most likely religious and folklore subtext. It’s a very weird movie, and it’s very likely not one that would work for everyone. It’s a very cold movie too, and you don’t get emotionally invested with these characters, both of them aren’t likable at all, however I still liked it as that kind of movie. The last 5-10 minutes of the movie is something that I’m going to be thinking about for some time.

The cast are very limited, it’s pretty much the duo of Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson, and both of them give some of the best performances of the year. Willem Dafoe has always been giving some excellent performances (especially recently) but even his work here is a standout in his career. He completely embodies this character, especially with his old fashioned dialogue, and his delivery of them, with a Captain Ahab like accent. One thing that does benefit from watching not in theatres admittedly is that you can actually have subtitles so you can see he’s saying. He has so many moments to chew the scenery and show off. Robert Pattinson is equally impressive, and shouldn’t be overlooked. He’s not immediately as standout in the beginning, mainly because he’s placed right next to Dafoe, who was giving a much more flashy performance. However as the movie progresses, and his character becomes more mad over time, he reaches such a range of emotions over the course of the film. I didn’t think that Pattinson would be able to top what he did in Good Time, but he did that here, and I strongly believe that this is a career best performance from him. The two of them play off each other excellently, constantly getting on each other’s nerves as they grow insane together.

Robert Eggers’s direction is fantastic once again, and this is quite a different movie from The Witch, even though both are period horror movies. The cinematography is absolutely outstanding. If you can watch it in the cinema, definitely do, I can only imagine it would’ve been an incredible experience. There are so many unforgettable and haunting imagery in this movie, that’s still burned into my memory. The Lighthouse was shot on black and white 35mm film, with an almost square aspect ratio, similar to that of older movies. You can actually see this movie coming out over 6 decades ago. I can’t imagine The Lighthouse working as well if it wasn’t shot like this. The locations and production design are great too, everything on that island, even the lighthouse, in the movie was actually built, and it all really feels authentic. The Lighthouse has such a dark atmosphere throughout, and I loved that. The score by Mark Korven is also great, fitting the rest of the movie so well.

The Lighthouse is one of my favourite films of the year. Robert Eggers’s direction and writing are phenomenal, it was darkly atmospheric, and the performances of Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe are outstanding. It’s not for everyone, but you’ve seen the trailers and it looks like something that you’ll like, see it as soon as possible. It’s a film that I’m looking forward to revisiting again and again. Robert Eggers is easily becoming one of my favourite up and coming filmmakers working today.

The Witch (2016) Review

Time: 93 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, horror & content that may disturb
Cast:
Anya Taylor-Joy as Thomasin
Ralph Ineson as William
Kate Dickie as Katherine
Harvey Scrimshaw as Caleb
Ellie Grainger as Mercy
Lucas Dawson as Jonas
Director: Robert Eggers

In 1630 New England, panic and despair envelops a farmer (Ralph Ineson), his wife (Kate Dickie) and four of their children when youngest son Samuel suddenly vanishes. The family blames Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), the oldest daughter who was watching the boy at the time of his disappearance. With suspicion and paranoia mounting, twin siblings Mercy (Ellie Grainger) and Jonas (Lucas Dawson) suspect Thomasin of witchcraft, testing the clan’s faith, loyalty and love to one another.

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I remember watching The Witch for the first time a few years ago. It’s really not a movie for everyone, and while I didn’t love this movie (at least yet), it had a lot of admirable elements to it that were really worthy of praise, particularly its direction, performances and how it differs from most horror movies today. With writer/director Robert Eggers having another movie coming out later this year (The Lighthouse), I decided to rewatch The Witch. On a second viewing, I appreciated the movie much more, and it’s probably one of my all time favourite horror movies of all time now.

For those expecting a traditional horror movie, The Witch is very slow paced. Maybe it’s because I saw the movie again knowing what was coming, but it wasn’t as drawn out as I thought it was when I rewatched it. It makes sense given that it’s around 90 minutes long, and it makes great use of that valuable time. It may take a while for the especially grisly things to occur, but it already has an eerie and suspenseful vibe early on. Like with other horror movies, I wasn’t particularly scared (at this point a horror movie not scaring me doesn’t necessarily make a horror movie bad), but the scares are legitimately great. The Witch goes for the more creepy and unsettling route instead of just going full out with gore and jump scares, even though those appear here at some point. Actually watching it the second time I could appreciate how effective it was. While it’s a horror movie, The Witch is also a family drama, touching upon topics like religion (and more which I won’t get into in this spoiler free review). Eggers clearly has done his research on the 17th Century time period and religion, and it really paid off. The dialogue for one is authentically ‘old fashioned’ and very well written, there’s not many movies I can think of released recently that can pull it off. The Witch also has one of the best horror movie endings I’ve ever seen, I can’t exactly explain why it’s so fantastic, but it’s something to do with lead character Thomasin’s story over the course of the movie, and how it ends up with her.

Anya Taylor-Joy is fantastic here as the main character of Thomasin, the daughter of the family. This was actually one of her first roles in a movie and she was great, and of course her work here would deservedly propel her onto more high profile movies. The rest of the movie’s limited cast were great as well. Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Ellie Grainger and Lucas Dawson play the rest of the family and they all do a great job (Ineson especially). The performances all feel authentic, increasing the horror even more and they also make the old language dialogue work.

Robert Eggers has done such a great job directing this for a first film, I can’t wait to see what he does for The Lighthouse. This film is shot very well and the production design was truly great, the whole movie is really based in and around the woods in 1630s New England, and it places you right there with the characters. It’s such a bleak and dark looking movie, really making you feel unsettled even in the moments when nothing is really happening (yet). Making the film feel even more creepy is the subtle but great score by Mark Korven.

The Witch is definitely not for everyone. It doesn’t have many (if any) jump scares so its not a typical horror flick, it’s slow paced and it’s very unique. However, I do regard it as one of the best horror movies released in recent years, and it’s a strong contender for the best. It’s directed incredibly well, the cast give some really great performances (particularly Anya Taylor-Joy), and it’s effectively creepy and horrifying throughout. If you like horror movies I highly recommend that you check it out as soon as you can.