Movie Reviews

Beacon Review: I Think I've Seen This Tensionless Psychological Thriller Before


  • Tension & suspense are lacking in
    ‘s intriguing story.
  • Horror elements feel shoehorned in and arrive too late.
  • The relationship between Emily and Ismael falls short in delivering thrills.

Beacon begins with an interesting enough premise — young sailor Emily has set out on her own when her boat crashes off of Cape Horn. She awakens on an island inhabited by lonely lighthouse keeper Ismael. Initially, he’s kind enough, but the inherent tension between the strangers soon rises to the surface as Emily feels increasingly uncomfortable around Ismael. It’s a plot ready-made for suspense and mystery.


Roxy Shih

Release Date
June 8, 2024

Julio Rojas

Demián Bichir , Julia Goldani Telles

96 Minutes

Unfortunately, Beacon fumbles its execution, sapping any tension from its plot with plodding pacing and horror elements that feel shoehorned in rather than an organic part of the film’s story. Stars Demián Bichir and Juliana Goldani Telles give worthy performances, but it’s not enough to save the film, and it doesn’t help that, outside the gender dynamics that drive much of Beacon‘s tension, a much better movie about going insane at a lighthouse lies somewhere beneath the surface of this film.

Beacon Wastes Its Intriguing Premise

The story only scratches the surface of its terrifying tale

Demián Bichir in Beacon. 

When Emily awakens on the island, she’s disoriented but relieved to be alive. Ismael seems excited to have rescued her, both out of a sense of duty and because he may have been alone a little too long. Emily is rightfully cautious and Telles plays it well — her face is a portrait of confusion and relief, her body language hesitant to accept anything from the Bichir’s Ismael. It immediately sets up the film’s tense premise, but things take time to progress from there.


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As Emily gets used to her new home, her and Ismael settle into a rhythm of sorts as she awaits rescue. Even subtle twists, like Ismael proclaiming that he spoke to Emily’s dead father when contacting rescuers, feel under-cooked. In Beacon, though, the most obvious thing that can happen will more likely happen, and this predictability makes it hard to feel as if there are surprises waiting around the corner.

Beacon Reaches For Horror But It’s Too Late

An intriguing premise lies somewhere in here

Julia Goldani Telles sits at a table with a mug in Beacon
Julia Goldani Telles in Beacon. 

There are mentions of sirens, gestures towards body horror, and a creeping feeling of insanity in Beacon. Much of the insanity has to do with Bichir’s Ismael. Bichir has a warm presence, but here it’s weaponized in such a way that it feels almost sinister. He keeps us and Emily on our toes, never quite committing to either feeling, but this is by design. Ismael’s true intentions are never clear, but this doesn’t serve to ratchet up the intrigue — instead, it undermines the tension between him and Telles.

Is Ismael just a good guy helping a lone traveler or is he really taking advantage of the situation by keeping Emily at the lighthouse so he can have some company? It doesn’t really matter. Many other elements of mystery fall flat, too. Tales of sirens off the coast of the island begin to invade Emily’s dreams and, eventually, her waking life. At one point, an injury begins to grow scales as if she herself is turning into a siren. It’s an intriguing wrinkle, but one that comes along far too late in the film’s runtime.

It’s only at the end, when things come to a head, that the film delivers the thrills that it promises, but by then it’s too late.

At the center of Beacon is the relationship between Emily and Ismael and, to its credit, the film takes time to establish a rapport between the two, but the tension between Emily and Ismael is delivered in spurts — the scenes between create an odd space that doesn’t allow the suspense to flourish. It’s only at the end, when things come to a head, that the film delivers the thrills that it promises, but by then it’s too late.

Director Roxy Shih does well conveying the isolation with her direction, but the script is caught between wanting to be a full-blown horror movie and wanting to be a tense psychological thriller. Many of the twists have been done before (and better), adding to the feeling that I’ve seen this film before. When everything was said and done, I wasn’t sure who wanted to get off that island more — me or Emily.

Beacon premiered at the 2024 Tribeca Film Festival.

Beacon - Poster

Driven by an overzealous sense of adventure, young sailor Emily (Julia Goldani Telles), quickly runs into trouble when she shipwrecks on a remote island off the coast of South America. She’s rescued by the island’s lone inhabitant, Demián Bichir’s mysterious light keeper Ismael.


  • Julia Goldani Telles and Demián Bichir give solid performances.

  • The tension and suspense is missing from this psychological thriller.
  • Horror elements are introduced too late to have an impact.
  • Beacon can’t escape the feeling that this story has been told before.

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