Stars: Michael Jibson, Mark Lewis Jones, Ian Virgo, Stephen McDade, Joshua Richards, Charles Curran, Jason May, Nathan Sussex, David Lloyd, David Shillitoe | Written by Paul Bryant, Chris Crow, Michael Jibson | Directed by Chris Crow
Horror tends to disturb us much more when it taps into our own personal demons… The Lighthouse is a film based on a true story, the Smalls Island Incident of 1801, showing how our own demons can actually be the scariest of them all!
Thomas Howell (Michael Jibson) and Thomas Griffiths (Mark Lewis Jones) are posted at the Smalls Island Lighthouse, with the job of ‘keeping the light’ to protect sailors from the islands rock. The temperamental nature of the weather on the Irish Sea leads to the two becoming stranded 25 miles from land in the Lighthouse and as their supplies start to run out, their grip on reality begins to fail.
While based on a true story, it is fair to say that the facts of the real case are used as a basic plan of where the story will run its course. This is a film which looks into the souls of two men who had inner demons that took over them, and led to disaster. Taking us on their voyage to being broken by their own minds, it is interesting to see just how the film itself manages this.
Under the direction of Chris Crow, The Lighthouse is a film that feels claustrophobic as soon as the men are left alone on the lighthouse. With a limited cast and setting that limits the movement of the men, we are reminded that it was also against the rules for them to even leave the lighthouse itself to do something as simple as fish. This would seem to be a perfect breeding ground for cabin fever to set in.
Another aspect of the film is the fact that the characters seem doomed from the outset, there is an instant dislike between the two. One religious man hiding behind his belief from his past actions, and one lacking faith because of what he blames God for this leads to confrontation between the two on many angles. As with many films, we don’t need to believe in God to know that the omnipresent presence has an effect in a film like this.
The Lighthouse depends on the performance of Michael Jibson and Mark Lewis Jones, and while I wasn’t invested in the characters at first, they soon pulled me in and I become invested in the story. This is because of the nature of the performances. The more we understand the characters, and the more they are freed from the constraints of self-control the more powerful the performances are allowed to become.
In many ways, The Lighthouse feels like a play on a stage, and this is because of the claustrophobic nature of the film. Set in 1801 this isn’t one of the lighthouses we have becomes used to seeing, but a small wooden structure that uses a simple lantern as its light. Everything about the setting is small and closed in, trapped in the fury of the Irish Ocean, it is no wonder that tragedy’s like this took place.
An interesting tale, made all the more impactful that it was a true history changing event, The Lighthouse is a good old-fashioned psychological drama that looks into the darkness of the human heart. With elements of Edgar Allen Poe, and a nice dose of The Tell-Tale Heart in particular, this is is well worth checking out for those looking for a spooky twist on their horror.
The Lighthouse is out on DVD in the UK now.