Nominations: Best Low Budget Movie
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Willem DaFoe, Valeriia Karaman, Jarin Blaschke, Logan Hawkes, Kyla Nicolle
Writer: Robert Eggers
Director: Robert Eggers, Max Eggers
Production Companies: A24, Maiden Voyage Pictures, New Regency Productions, Parts and Labor, RT Features
To be honest, I would’ve assumed THE LIGHTHOUSE (2019) would have been nominated for more BTS Awards than just Best Low Budget Movie. There were many great additions to the horror genre in the last two years, but Robert Eggers delivered a masterpiece.
THE LIGHTHOUSE brings us into a black-and-white world, where Edgar Allan Poe meets H.P. Lovecraft. It follows the descent into madness of two men, Wake (Willem DaFoe) a supervisor who watches over an island and the lighthouse, and Winslow (Robert Pattinson) his new assistant/wickie.
The two are by themselves and to say they get cabin fever is the understatement of the century. It begins low-key enough. The duo behave like the 1890s version of THE ODD COUPLE (1968). Wake just wants to get the job done and then forget about his problems, while Winnie wants to follow all the rules and respect the position that he’s in.
Wake pounds back booze and tells tales about his old assistant that offed himself. It seems that the last guy in Winslow’s place went on rants about mermaids and sirens before he ended it.
Winslow starts off semi-normal. Wake pressures him to get drunk with him, but Winnie-boy wants to follow the rules. As to not offend, he soon joins his superior and parties like a mofo. The duo dance and share good times, even as Winslow begins to become resentful. He feels as though Wake gives him all the toughest jobs. Still, he performs them and does his best to keep up good spirits.
He’s diligent but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t grab a moment or two for himself. In fact, he jacks it to a carving of a mermaid he finds. Hey, don’t judge. It’s not like they had access to Pornhub. Give the man a break! One gent’s scrimshaw is another man’s centerfold!
Things begin to go awry, when Winslow starts seeing sea monsters and after a heavy storm finds a mermaid. Hallucinations and reality collide. What is real and what is imagined remains a mystery.
Making matters worse, Wake and Winslow run out of food and begin surviving on alcohol alone. After the gin runs out, the geniuses move to turpentine and honey. Unsurprisingly, that shift in beverage does not help the delusions or animosity.
The relationship between the two men change so rapidly. One moment, they are joking and confiding in each other, but like a flick of the switch paranoia and anger sets in. When Wake reveals a few truths about himself and Winslow finds out other facts he’s hiding, the shit hits the fan.
In the end, Winslow is able to get a gander of what Wake had tried so desperately to keep for himself.
Good storytelling, strong characters, fabulous acting and magnificent direction dance perfectly with the mythology flawlessly intertwined in the production. If you have not yet seen THE LIGHTHOUSE, seek it out. It’s tremendous.
Admittedly, I’m a huge Dafoe fan. I don’t much like Madonna and I think her acting is atrocious. Still, BODY OF EVIDENCE (1993) is a RAWR RAWR movie and got a young teenage Missy all hot-and-bothered over Willem. After seeing that at 13, I watched every flick in his filmography. I can still remember going through an enormous catalog at my local video store, looking up his name and writing down all of his movies before finding them all. It seems an arduous process now that the internet is around, but damn do I miss it.
Whether getting the holy rollers’ panties in a bunch in the phenomenal film THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST (1988), portraying the straight-laced Agent Ward in the engrossing classic MISSISSIPPI BURNING (1988), making viewers laugh out loud with his delivery of Wes Anderson’s dry humor in THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU (2004) or disturbing the hell out peeps with his depiction of Max Schreck in SHADOW OF A VAMPIRE (2000), the man can do no wrong. Not to mention, his dick is so big that he had a stand-in for ANTICHRIST (2009) because Lars von Trier didn’t want to confuse the audience. If anyone knows Lars, tell him next time to confuse me! I want to be confused!
In all honesty, I didn’t think I’d be as sold on Robert Pattinson, but he was marvelous. I sincerely feel bad for him now because his early career is tainted so much as the crybaby, teen, dipshit vamp in the TWILIGHT (2008) series. I’m glad he escaped that because he’s a great actor. Those were just really awful movies, with bad plots, terrible scripts, atrocious dialogue and direction that made no sense. They garnered attention from a lot of annoying groupies that wouldn’t shut the fuck up and it pissed the rest of us off. Pattinson got so much of the hate because he was the star. A lot of the criticism towards him is unjustified as the man does have mad acting skills. In the right role and with the correct director, he shines bright. As Winslow, he owned the performance and was believable every second. The lack of glitter helped too.
Both in THE WITCH (2015) and in THE LIGHTHOUSE (2019), Robert Eggers successfully rewrites the rules as to what works in modern horror. He brings back the monsters and creatures of yesterday and historical surreal lore that captivates and compels. He’s absolutely brilliant and had he been nominated for Best Director, I would not have been surprised in the least.
In the end, I can definitely see this taking home the Best Low Budget Movie Award and I can’t think of any more worthy.