In the 1890s on a remote and mysterious island in New England two lighthouse keepers attempt to maintain their sanity when they are pushed to the limits of the secluded life.
Thomas Wake had been the lighthouse keeper for many years it seems and when he gets a new assistant Ephraim they must live and work with one another. The two hours of film that we get to show this story really is completely crazy and shows them quickly descending into madness.
The film is in black and white and I personally felt that gave it more of an edge for what was the bleak surroundings, with the wind, rain and sea even with colour I still imagined it would be very grey. So the black and white filming was perfect to make it feel even more eerie and quite frankly depressing. Who would want to be trapped on that island?
Both men have pasts that they don’t really get into and we certainly want to know more about Wake’s background. He already seems totally bonkers before the hallucinations begin. One scene in particular with Ephraim sticks out in my mind, the very aggressive masturbation was tough to watch as it was extremely awkward. How can we differentiate between his dreams, hallucinations and the reality.
Then we add in a mermaid who is certainly not from a Disney film that is for sure. Something that is supposed to be a fantasy of men when they are at sea? Well this creates for some very messed up dream sequences and certainly adds that little bit of horror genre.
Everything about this film is downright batshit crazy, no other way or words can describe it in short terms. I cannot even say that I fully understood it all but it was thought provoking at times. Something that I could not help but relate it to was the recent lockdown due to the pandemic, we felt cabin fever and strange being trapped in our own homes for so long without seeing or speaking to many other people in person. Imagine being trapped on a horrendous small island with one other person in the worst possible weather?
The two performances made the film with Willem Dafoe really being able to show off just how good of an actor he really is. Something I love about his career is that he will try any type of film and role. This really pushes the boundaries and while he was totally creepy it was an amazing performance to watch. Robert Pattinson has taken on some weird roles in the past few years to fully distance himself from the sparkling vampire and that really is a distant memory now. Doesn’t even feel real anymore does it? He is amazing in this film and I truly think his career is so varied.
With outstanding performances and an interesting plot, this film certainly will not be for everyone. I don’t really imagine I would recommend it to anyone who does not watch many films, I just feel it would be that too crazy for the general film watcher. Which actually makes me wonder if that is the reason it was given a super limited cinema release.