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THE LIGHTHOUSE

A24's exquisitely creepy horror/fantasy/mystery/psychological/period drama mashup focuses on two late 19th century lighthouse keepers sharing duties together in such a structure on a desolate, storm-swept island off the New England coast. The odd couple (give em a chance) are seasoned seaman Wake (Willem Dafoe, below left, who is Oscar-bound) and his newly arrived younger assistant Winslow (Robert Pattinson, below right, also impressive) who find themselves, like sea-ordained cellmates, uncomfortably isolated together. Well, maybe not that isolated.

One for the ages...Writer/director Robert Eggers' (The Witch!) seductive, hallucinatory film is a brilliantly contrived cinematic tone poem, packed with dense atmosphere, uneasy immersion, whiffs of some kind of perversion. The deeply atmospheric and claustrophobic milieu that they can't enjoy (but viewers certainly can!) owes much to Jarin Blaschke's terrific b/w, expressionistic cinematography and penchant for close-ups and that olde time square screen ratio.

As the story unfolds, it unfailingly unnerves and seduces, creating much suspense regarding the two troubled protags and what is real and not. Not an easy bag of tricks but a spectacle art, craft and choices in perfect harmony.

Some younger viewers especially, who don't like their genres messed with or entertainment that takes its time, may not fall under the spell.

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