Friday, January 10, 2020

THE LIGHTHOUSE ( Lionsgate Films Blu-ray Review)

USA, 2019
Directed By: Robert Eggers
Written By: Robert Eggers
Starring: Willem Dafoe, Robert Pattinson
Black & White/109 Minutes/R
Region A
Relese Date: January 7, 2020

The Film
How you view THE LIGHTHOUSE is as important as what you view in the film itself. Blacken the room, raise the volume a bit and perhaps turn on the subtitles - you'll need them if you want to catch every last word of dialogue between our two wickies but I promise you won't need to understand every last word to have this film affect you if you let yourself become fully engulfed by raging seas and swirling winds that pound the small island our two characters are tending to on a four week stay.

The plot,  a grizzled old lighthouse keeper and a greenhorn are assigned lighthouse duty on this old island for four weeks but quickly descend into madness is not important as the film follows little in the way of traditional story telling rules. Time shifts, jumping foward weeks or slowing to a crawl watching the men perform their mundane tasks amidst only an audience of squawking seagulls and each other as they banter back and forth about events of their past or bickering about position on the proverbial totem pole. Their accents are thick and distincy, Willem Dafoe a life long man of the sea and Robert Pattinson a man who has left a life working in the timber industry up north behind. The constant bellowing of the foghorn and the persistent squawking of the gulls is designed to agitate and it does. One of many things that begin to break down the psyche of Robert Pattinson's character but the sea has a way of its own and visions of floating corpses, mermaids and ungodly tentacled beasts deliver blow after blow to his fractured mind. His only salvation being that their shift is coming to an end and relief is in sight.

Robert Eggers took the horror world by storm several years ago when he released THE WITCH which I feel is one of the best horror films of this century. His slow burn, it gets there when it gets there attitude is one I appreciate and one I don't find to be self indulgent as both of his feature films are wholly engrossing in spite of their deliberate pace and unorthodox story telling. THE LIGHTHOUSE is all about the atmosphere and mood created from the first second we lay eyes on our duo as they depart their transport and trek through the pounding rain dragging all of their gear to the lodging. It's immediately dark and cold, obviously damp and distant. Seclusion only begins to describe it. Eggers creates a lore of the sea that H.P. Lovecraft would be proud of and this entire film would definitely fit the "Lovecraftian" bill. THE LIGHTHOUSE is entirely hypnotizing, wonderfully ghostly and eerie and at times even a bit funny. What it never is is typical.

I can't say enough about THE LIGHTHOUSE, it has gorgeous photography that I could spend days talking about, it is led by two award caliber performances, the music is blasphemous and helps the film become this mesmerizing piece of art that it truly is. Let this film wash over you and find out why Robert Eggers is one of the most important names in genre filmmaking at the moment.

The Audio &Video
Lionsgate delivers THE LIGHTHOUSE on Blu-ray with a stunning transfer featuring a 1.19:1 pillarboxed presentation. This is a very deliberate artistic choice for framing the film and I think it lends a hand to the feeling of being cut off and stranded. The black and white photography looks incredible on this release. The black levels are very deep and show no signs of blocking or compression issues. The varying levels of grey and white are crisp with fine details coming through beautifully from the threads in clothing to the hair on their grizzled faces or the textured surface of a brick wall. The audio is presented with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix that features booming low ends and a wide dynamic range that is handled with ease. Powerful and subtle with layers of light background sounds amidst perfectly mixed dialogue and score show how fantastic this audio mix job really is. English SDH and Spanish subtitles are available.

The Extras
-Audio commentary with co-writer/director Robert Eggers
-"The Lighthouse: A Dark And Stormy Tale" - featurette
-Deleted scenes

The Bottom Line
THE LIGHTHOUSE is one of my three favorite films of 2019 and easily the best horror film. It transcends the genre and is more of a full body experience than simply a movie to watch.  This is essential viewing.


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