If you've seen it advertised, this is the black/white film featuring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson as two US Lighthouse crewman who are dropped off to man a lighthouse station for four weeks. It was directed by the same guy who did 'The Witch', which had a very period atmosphere to it with authentic dialogue. The Lighthouse is no different, quickly capturing the same air of authenticity with some truly age of sail sorta lingo from Dafoe (as the old hand).
Long story short, the two men never get along very well, but are doing their jobs, and yet they exhibit some fairly typical solitary behaviors, such as Dafoe's character being obsessed with being the only one that goes to the very top of the lighthouse to maintain the Fresnel lens, where he does stuff sometimes like strips naked to 'bathe' in the light and other things. Pattinson being the younger guy appears to behave more normally, constantly complaining about the very hard tasks that Dafoe gives him to complete, but he also starts to see visions of everything from mermaids to tentacled monsters associated with Dafoe's character. In the process, he encounters a seagull with a missing eye that apparently bothers him several times, and Pattinson ends up killing it. (Bad idea...you don't kill gulls because they are inhabited by the souls of dead sailors).
The four weeks come to an end, but then no ship arrives to bring replacements, so they are effectively marooned until weather or whatever events delayed the ship play out (this film looks to be set in the 1890's). At this point the men effectively resort to hard drinking, and then Pattinson lets slip that he's not actually a man named Wilson, but rather, he'd assumed the identity of someone who died on a previous job he'd had as a logger, who he may have murdered. As you go along, you realize that while Dafoe's character is an eccentric wizened old man, Pattinson is actually some sort of insane murderer who had hoped to avoid eventual discovery by authorities by taking on a new life/job. The two are somewhat evenly paired, with a sort of truce over drinking, but after long Pattinson can't contain it and winds up killing Dafoe, but not before taking a serious wound. He then climbs finally to see what was so fascinating about the top of the lighthouse, and he has some sort of insane epiphany, but then falls down the lighthouse stairs and incurs several injuries along the way.
The final scene is of him on the rocks near the lighthouse, missing an eye, and having his guts pecked out by gulls while he's still alive.
I loved the atmosphere of the film. It was shot in a 4:3 ratio, so there's a lot of real estate lost for the scenes you get, but it's got a very old feel to it, like a lost film shot in the late 30's. The dialogue is hard to follow several times, and occasionally you can't see very much on screen. Some shots lacked contrast of any kind.
Ultimately I was disapppointed by how predictable the story was. I was expecting some sort of lovecraftian type horror, but instead it was really just a guy losing his mind and the two of them killing each other. The supernatural aspects were just window dressing on the insanity of Pattinson, rather than what I'd hoped would be some interesting turn of events in terms of something mysterious about that lighthouse or whatever. There was also some unnecessary attention to sex in the film, with Pattinson's character wacking off several times, and him dreaming of having sex with a mermaid, even with a mermaid genitalia pictured, which just looks like a giant puzzy. It kinda interferes with the story even, but I guess highlights the increasing isolation that Pattinson experiences, although Dafoe's character appears used to it. Towards the end you see him as more sane than he appeared to be earlier on.
The important takeaway is that never let yourself be alone with William Dafoe, because I'm convinced he's really like that in person, and I could see myself killing him.