While millions of Americans are self-isolating at home—and their families are getting on their last nerve, and they would do anything just to go sit at a sports bar for a couple hours by themselves—what movie does Amazon decide to offer for free, starting today, to Prime users? Something about crowds of friends getting together and laughing? About people frolicking in the great outdoors? A 90-minute montage of strangers shaking their sweaty hands? Go on, guess!
No, it's The Lighthouse, about two guys in the 1890s going stir crazy from being trapped in a lighthouse together for months on end!
Is this cruel irony the work of vengeful heavens? Or is it just that Amazon and production company A24 scheduled this months ago after The Lighthouse wrapped up its 2019 theatrical run? Either way, I'm here to tell you The Lighthouse will fit these WTF times like a seagull's beak can fit into your eye socket. And I can just about guarantee that when you're done watching it, you'll look around at your life and say, "Well, this could all be worse by orders of magnitude."
Light on plot, heavy on bonkers
The Lighthouse is a parade of awfulness, and it's hilarious. The head lighthouse dude (Willem Dafoe) is a crusty sonuvabitch who gets a kick out of tormenting the new guy (Robert Pattinson), possibly because the new guy isn't an effective "wickie." Or maybe he just finds Pattison's dishiness offensive.
The new guy spends his days stirring coal, emptying chamberpots, and being harassed by a seagull. The old guy, meanwhile, likes to stare directly into the lighthouse's kajillion-watt lamp before crafting a new way to bust the new guy's balls. Off-hours are devoted to drinking, farting, masturbating, lusting after mermaids, and possibly having visions of eldritch sea gods. Or not. Our Guys are either beset by supernatural forces or are just wildly incompatible roommates. Doors creak, wind howls. Drowning nightmares and unholy visions ensue, along with a thousand memes based around ye olde dick jokes and RPatz looking miserable. One of my coworkers is planning on replacing his next Thanksgiving blessing with Willem Dafoe's speech summoning Triton. The accents are bizarre, and the facial hair is tremendous.
“O what Protean forms swim up from mens minds”
Why do awful things and awful people make us laugh? Theories abound. Here's one: we secretly wish we could visit our crapulence upon others without consequence, and so we scratch that itch by watching movies about dreadful people being dreadful. But I hope I don't secretly long to be Bad Lieutenant, screaming at little old ladies while waving a .44 Magnum (although admit it, a coked-up Nic Cage threatening senior citizens with a giant revolver gave you a giggle).
Another theory about why we laugh during horror movies—and The Lighthouse is a horror movie even though I cackled so much my face hurt and my bladder control was tested—is that we don't want anyone else to know that we're scared. So we hide that with laughter. We announce to everyone around us, "I'm not scared!"
But the theory that sits best with me is incongruity. We laugh at things we know are wrong—irrational, immoral, atypical, blasphemous horrors—as a way to acknowledge, to whomever will listen, how much we know these things are wrong. Mental Floss has this breezy summary:
[S]ome theorists argue that we laugh because horror and humor have in their roots the same phenomena: incongruity and transgression. We laugh when somethingRead More – Source