Horror Films A–Z, Sept. 2020: L, M & N

The Lighthouse

Year: 2019
Runtime: 1h 49m
Rated: R

Director: Robert Eggers

Writers: Robert Eggers, Max Eggers

Stars: Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe, Valeriia Karaman

Should pale death, with treble dread, make the ocean caves our bed, God who hears the surges roll deign to save our suppliant soul.

Initial: I’m not sure there is agreement as to whether The Lighthouse is horror or not… By the Eli Roth Rule that I laid out in the last post, it’s produced by A24 (Hereditary (2018)) and directed by Robert Eggers (The Witch (2016)), so that’s enough to make it count, right?

Production Notes: Filmed purposefully in 1.19:1 ratio and in black and white.

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead)
The Lighthouse is weird enough and has enough insanity to make it fit with my months of perilous movies, but I don’t think anything can be interpreted as supernatural. I didn’t *not* enjoy The Lighthouse, but I can’t imagine that I will ever want to watch it again. Also, I wouldn’t *not* recommend it. The acting by Pattinson and Dafoe is superb. Willem Dafoe did not sound like Willem Dafoe, which is something I’m pretty sensitive to. Honestly, while the black and white and the limited aspect ration work for the film, I think there are better black and while films out there. This is a slow, subtle movie that isn’t for every day.


Mary

Year: 2019
Runtime: 1h 24m
Rated: R

Director: Michael Goi

Writer: Anthony Jaswinski

Stars: Gary Oldman, Emily Mortimer, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo

In Puritan times, known witch by rite, / Was taken to sea and drowned in dark night. / Her children it’s told, were whisked far away, / And so shall she rise, to take yours one cold day…

Initial: A list change-up. Horror on a boat! I like horror on a boat!

Production Notes: Nicolas Cage was originally wanted for the role Gary Oldman plays.

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead)
Nicolas Cage would have made this a better movie due to his intrinsic Nick Cage-ness…

By the end of this movie, and I did make it to the end, I realized what my biggest problem was with Mary: I didn’t believe a single character’s motivations for doing anything. I didn’t care about the characters and, therefore, I didn’t care what happened to them. There is effort to provide some back story, but it’s just flat. I did appreciate that they tried to keep the effects to a minimum, though most of the scares were in dream sequences. There’s also almost a mythology created about witches and the sea, but it just feels like an afterthought.


Near Dark

Year: 1987
Runtime: 1h 34m
Rated: R

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Writers: Kathryn Bigelow, Eric Red

Stars: Adrian Pasdar, Jenny Wright, Lance Henriksen

“Boy, you people sure stay up late.”

“We keep odd hours.”

Initial: Oh man, after Mary, I was really glad to get to rewatch a favorite. Since I was a day behind on my movie-watching this was a double feature.

Production Notes: Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, and Jenette Goldstein all worked together previously on Aliens (1986) which was directed by James Cameron who would become Kathryn Bigelow’s husband for a while.

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead)
Near Dark is by no means a perfect film. It’s pretty rough around the edges, actually, but it’s such a great take on vampires. They’re grimy, brutal, but also innovative. How does a modern vampire get by? With a good deal of duct tape, tin foil, and spray paint, obviously. Also, I had never seen a vampire movie set in the west/southwest. (It’s set in Oklahoma and north Texas, but was filmed mostly in Arizona…) Give me an old trope in a new setting and you’ll get me everytime.

I would say, I don’t buy the chemistry between Caleb and Mae. The best part of the movie is the family dynamic that Caleb “marries” into. Also, if there is any moral to this story, it’s don’t coerce a kiss; consent is the key.

4 thoughts on “Horror Films A–Z, Sept. 2020: L, M & N

  1. Elyse LeMieux

    The Lighthouse was extremely weird. Full of uncomfortable moments! But yes, superb acting. I’ve never seen Pattinson act better, in fact!

    Reply
  2. Michelle Stockard Miller

    I agree about The Lighthouse. I was so excited to see it. In fact, I saw it at the theater, before the pandemic. I liked its dark nature and, as you said, the excellent acting, but it’s not one I would rush to watch again. Pattinson is really proving himself as an actor. Something I knew all along. Check him in Netflix’s new film, The Devil All the Time. Impressive.

    Reply

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