After breaking out with 2015’s visceral nightmare, The Witch, filmmaker Robert Eggers and A24 Productions have released the first official image from The Lighthouse, showcasing a rather haggard-looking Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson, overlooked by the titular decrepit watchtower.
Details of the plot and characters at this point are almost non-existent. Set in the 19th century, Defoe and Pattinson play lighthouse keepers who will no doubt encounter something gruesome and terrifying on the deserted beaches. In addition to scraps of information, we have a vague description that reads more as a loose framework than a strong log-line:
“A fantasy horror story set in the world of old sea-faring myths.”
The visionary Eggers put on hold a much more high-profile project (a Nosferatu remake) to write and direct this film, so it’s fair to assume that, like The Witch, this is a firm passion-project of his, to which he will hopefully bring a similar sense of dread and terror. Stories of his passion and intensity have already circulated online; Pattinson claims that he was tempted to punch Eggers after they endured multiple gruelling takes on set.
The monochrome picture particularly highlights Eggers’ respectable desire for an antiquated effect. Shot on 35mm black and white stock with cameras from the 1920s and ’40s, the story’s haunting atmosphere should be emphasised by the natural and grainy quality of celluloid, and will hopefully recall some of the 20th century’s most terrifying filmic imagery.
Certainly, dirt and scratches on a film print can add great dimension to a horror’s realism and morbidity (Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre comes immediately to mind…)
The Lighthouse is part of the Cannes Film Festival’s Directors’ Fortnight and will have its premiere there next month. US and international distribution is not yet known.
by Ben Aldis