EDGAR ALLAN POES LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER
Lighthouse Keeper is based on the least known of all Poes stories. The Lighthouse is a fragment of a story that Poe left unfinished when he died even the title was only something added by the publisher when the piece was eventually printed in 1909. It only runs to 747 words, slightly fewer than there are in this review. The story consists of very little a handful of entries from the diary of a man who has arrived to take up a position as a lighthouse keeper and is relishing being alone and even then there is nothing about the piece that pushes it into the horror category. Poe may well have been intending to add such in the rest of the story; equally, he also wrote non-horror stories but the truth is that nobody knows. This is of little concern to the makers of Lighthouse Keeper who readily embellish the fragments to create a ghost story. Indeed, all that the film and story have in common is the setting and the observation that the lighthouse has been built on chalk.
Between Vernon Wellss brooding lighthouse keeper who recites sections of Poes Lenore (1843) while drunk, the mystery girl on the beach, the phantoms and Matt ONeills amnesia, director Benjamin Cooper provides an adequate assemblage of ghost story elements. The film is on the slow side but Cooper produces passable atmosphere and even occasionally spooky moments. On the minus side, the film is low budget. You have to commend that it does produce period atmosphere quite well within these limitations. On the other hand, the digital effects of the ship about to crash on the rocks are painful.
The film seems promising but eventually falls down in its latter half. [PLOT SPOILERS] The revelation that mystery girl Rachel Riley is a ghost is no surprise at all. There is one scene where she and Matt ONeill are making out on the beach and she momentarily turns into something dead that looks more schlocky than effective. Finally the film loses itself in an ending that makes no real sense. Matt ONeill finds photos dated 1930 and 1964 that seem to indicate he is either the lighthouse keepers son or a young version of the lighthouse keeper, while the flashbacks indicate that he may have conducted the murders himself. Or maybe he is in some kind of fugue state akin to Edward Norton in Fight Club (1999) and imagines that Vernon Wells is himself. Nothing is done to resolve this. The film arrives at an even more baffling ending where Matt ONeill escapes but then washes up on the beach, sees Rachel Riley again and the events of the film seem about to repeat themselves all over again.
Edgar Allan Poes Lighthouse Keeper was the fourth film for Benjamin Cooper who had previously made the nuclear fallout shelter drama Omega Diary (1999) and the horror films The Brink (2006) and Primitive (2011).