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THE LIGHTHOUSE (2016)
Directed by Chris Crow
Written by Chris Crow, Paul Bryant, Michael Jibson
Starring Mark Lewis Jones, Michael Jibson, Joshua Richards, Nathan Sussex, Gerald Tyler, Tim Edwards
While there really aren’t many scares to be had with THE LIGHTHOUSE, the strength of the performances and the thick and tension filled atmosphere makes the film a fantastic little character-driven descent into madness film.
Mark Lewis Jones & Michael Jibson play the relief lighthouse watchmen arriving on a wave-battered island giving guidance to passing boats. Jones plays a rookie lighthouseman having never done time at this particular house, with Jibson playing the swarthy, worn-down elder. The two don’t particularly gel in the opening days with Jones relying on his bible for inspiration and Jibson focusing on simply being a grump. Through time and sheer boredom, the two do bond in a way. This bond is strengthened when a storm moves in, preventing their relief team from arriving on the island. Low on food and resolve, the two begin to tear into each other, resulting in one death and a battle with utter loneliness for the other. Dealing with guilt, isolation, and the constant battering of the storm against the creaky lighthouse, the survivor struggles to keep his senses and wits in this tale of fraying minds and horrific conditions.
This isn’t a nail-biter film. It’s not a thrill a minute. It’s not full of action, violence, or gore. What it is—is full of great character work by Jones and Jibson as they cope with this isolation and these terrible conditions and how that shaves away the layers of sanity. I am always a fan of a good descent into madness film, mainly because it is a journey that must ratchet up the tension slowly and still be believable all the way through in order to work. Here it works. Every step of the way, from the rolling in of the storm, to the constant creaking of the lighthouse which may blow over at any minute, to the tension of keeping the light lit, to the eventual depletion of food and supplies—all of it happens logically and believably every step of the way into the abyss of insanity. This film is more of an endurance test than anything else. That might not sound interesting to you and if it doesn’t, then this isn’t the movie for you. But if you’re interested in how the human mind can be bent and twisted by the environment and goings on around it, THE LIGHTHOUSE will hold your attention all the way through. The atmosphere is amazing and everything looks to be as authentic as possible; all of this just adds to the authentic tension THE LIGHTHOUSE exudes in every frame.
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