The Lighthouse Movie Review
Written by Gabino Iglesias
Released by Dogs of Uncork'd Entertainment
Directed by Chris Crow
Written by Chris Crow, Paul Bryant, and Michael Jibson
2016, 102 minutes, Not Rated
Released on July 6th, 2018
Mark Lewis Jones as Thomas Griffiths
Michael Jibson as Thomas Howell
As I’ve mentioned in many reviews, watching a dozen bad movies in a row is not a problem if the next one is good. After a string of mediocre indie efforts, I found Chris Crow’s The Lighthouse to be refreshing. On one hand, this isn’t an outstanding movie that I’ll be talking about for years. On the other, this is a well-crafted, slightly creepy film with some passionate acting, a decent script based on real events, some solid effects, and a tight, oppressive, haunting atmosphere. The latter overshadows the former and makes this an enjoyable movie that reminds me of Edgar Allan Poe’s work, which is always a good thing.
Starring Mark Lewis Jones as Thomas Griffiths and Michael Jibson as Thomas Howell, The Lighthouse recounts the hellish suffering two lighthouse keepers went through when a freak storm left them stranded for months at sea. With no visibility, no chance of rescue, and supplies running low, the two try their hardest to do their job and stay sane, but the situation becomes too much to handle and eventually spirals into a maelstrom of frustration, anger, violence, superstition, drinking, madness, and death.
One of my favorite films of 2017 is A Dark Song because it manages to do a hell of a lot within the context of a very small microcosm. In The Lighthouse, we get a taste of the same thing. I hate comparing movies because each one is a different animal, but it must be done here to explain why The Lighthouse strikes me as an effort worthy of attention. Furthermore, while production value and writing are not on the same level, The Lighthouse shares a few elements with the aforementioned A Dark Song. For starters, both movies place two individuals in a reduced space and force them to interact. Here, both men start out fine, but the desperation that creeps into their system changes them in ways that feel too big for the reduced space and eventually leads to violence. Second, there is an element of the supernatural at play. In The Lighthouse, it is somewhat reduced, but people were killed while the lighthouse was being built, and the building is discussed in a way that gives it life and turns in into a hungry monsters. Lastly, both movies use sound to great effect. Here, between the screaming, the storm, and a pounding noise (I won’t tell you what it is, but it was the part of the movie that most reminded me of Poe’s work), sounds becomes an entity that plays a large role and helps create a spooky atmosphere throughout the film.
Ultimately, although it is based on real events, this movie is a great study of the effects of isolation on humans. Desperate situations transform people, and when the desperate situation seems to have no end, that change is always amplified. What happens between these trapped men is strange, but it also feels universal. In that regard, the narrative serves as a vehicle that takes the audience on a trip to the darkest corners of humanity and shows them the brutality that hides in there, waiting for hopelessness to dare it to come out.