Actor Robert Pattinson will soon return to franchise filmmaking in a big way in director Matt Reeves’ The Batman, but before he does, the former Twilight actor still has some smaller films on the way. One of those films is The Lighthouse from director Robert Eggers, who made his feature debut with 2016’s The Witch. For his follow-up, The Lighthouse, the director enlists the future Dark Knight for a thriller co-starring Willem Dafoe. Check out the first trailer for The Lighthouse below:
Well this looks sufficiently unsettling. The Lighthouse is set on a small island off the coast of Maine in the 1890s and follows Willem Dafoe’s lighthouse keeper Thomas Wake and Robert Pattinson’s junior lighthouse keeper Ephraim Winslow. It’s clear from this trailer that Ephraim has a mysterious past and he is hiding or running from something that is sure to come to light in the isolated and enclosed space of the titular structure.
More traditional or mainstream horror films and trailers go for big scares to frighten and delight the audience but what we see here is something much different. Like Robert Eggers’ The Witch before it, The Lighthouse trailer sets up a film that appears to be a slow-building psychological thriller.
The trailer doesn’t tell you exactly what’s going on or what the horror is Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe’s lighthouse keepers will face, but the overwhelming sense of dread is palpable. You know something is wrong but you don’t know what and that adds an air of mystery to the tense feeling you get watching this trailer.
The trailer for The Lighthouse actually reminded me quite a bit of The Terror on AMC. That show found a group of men going mad and turning on one another in a harsh environment with a supernatural element in play. We could get something similar here because it looks like both of the lighthouse keepers might be driven to madness.
Two moments in the trailer were especially disturbing. The first is that repeated voiceover from Willem Dafoe’s character asking in an ominous tone, “Why’d you spill your beans?” That was quite unnerving and definitely seems to be setting him up to take a Joker-esque turn to crazy town. Also, the moment where the two men don’t seem to know how long they’ve been on the island proves that they are in some kind of waking nightmare.
The Lighthouse is billed as a fantasy horror film and there also appears to be some sort of Lovecraftian horror at play because in a brief shot we see tentacles behind Robert Pattinson’s character.
The last thing that should be addressed is the unique way that Robert Eggers chose to film The Lighthouse. The film is set in the 1890s and Robert Eggers clearly wanted it to look like it was filmed in the late 19th century and he went to extensive lengths to make that happen. To achieve the look he wanted, The Lighthouse was shot in black and white on 35mm Kodak film and even the lenses used were designed in the 1930s.
An old and rare 1.19:1 aspect ratio that is taller and squarer than modern widescreen was also used because of the limited number of characters, the confined spaces of the film and the height of the titular lighthouse. The approach won’t appeal to general audiences, but the formal choices fit the content of the story and early rave reviews out of Cannes Film Festival indicate it works.
The Lighthouse might be just the film to see how dark the future Dark Knight Robert Pattinson can get before he shows up in The Batman. The Robert Eggers film hits theaters on October 18. Check out our premiere guide for all the other movies arriving this fall.