Lighthouse Keeper (2016)
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Lighthouse Keeper is a movie inspired by an Edgar Allen Poe 'story' dubbed 'The Light-House'. I say 'inspired by' rather than 'based on' because the story is unfinished – in fact Poe only wrote the first couple of pages. So the film takes the basic setup and starts from scratch with the story.
The setting is an old lighthouse building on a peninsular cut off from the mainland. The story begin with a young man - J.P. (Matt O'Neill) - washed up on the beach below the lighthouse. There he meets with the lighthouse keeper Walsh (Vernon Wells) who is definitely not a people person. He also meets a silent young woman (played by Rachel Riley) who might or might not be a ghost.
It's clear from the beginning that the lighthouse has a dark past and the people have secrets. We're constantly wondering who's dead and who's alive, who's telling the truth and who's hiding what.
Although the story is not Poe's, Cooper is clearly trying to create something fittingly gothic. The soaked colours along with the dark shadows and flickering candles give the whole thing an appropriately lush but at the same time menacing style. It looks great.
Acting is decent, in particular Wells who has great screen presence.
So at first I thought this was going to be a really great film, unfortunately it didn't fulfil its promise.
The main problem is the story. This is a supernatural gothic romance and, like the novels of those days, it's slow. In fact at times it's painfully dull. When the plot does start heating up it actually makes thing worse - 'things' are introduced that simply don't fit with the atmosphere that's been built up. Maybe if they'd been kept more in the shadows they would have worked better.
Ultimately the threads are woven together. The basic back story is hardly a great surprise but there are a couple of nice twists. Yet despite the otherwise slow story-telling the ending requires a massive narrative leap from the viewer for it to make sense.
So Lighthouse Keeper is a good try but a disappointment. It's classy and stylish with a compelling performance from Wells but overall it lacks enough meat and coherence.