Lighthouse (1999)

Rating: C-

Dir: Simon Hunter
Star: James Purefoy, Rachel Shelley, Christopher Adamson, Don Warrington

“It’s not a slasher”, claimed the director in a piece for Total Film. Bollocks. What other kind of movie get released on a double bill with The Evil Dead? This is straightforward, unpretentious and absolutely a British slasher pic – albeit one that took three years to get a cinema release in the UK… two years after coming out on video in America, as Dead of Night. Go figure. The plot has a prison ship running aground on a lighthouse island, and the crew being hunted by the escaped killer they’re transporting.

It’s by no means a disaster, with the titular setting providing a spooky location, but the bunch of people being slaughtered by a maniac is over-familiar, and there’s never much in the way of tension, since it almost all unfolds exactly as you’d expect. You know who the killer is. You know what he does. You just have to hang around and wait for him to do it. However, there are a couple of clever sequences, most notably one involving a lavatory stall, and the presence of Brit character actors Warrington and Paul Brooke (you’ll likely remember the former from Rising Damp) also helps keep things ticking over. Purefoy and Craven are largely forgettable, though there’s an interesting, if underexplored, sideline suggesting the heroine’s choice of forensic psychiatry as a career is due to a childhood trauma. It’s competent enough to pass muster, yet only memorable in brief spurts.