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Ephraim Winslow/Young (Thomas Howard)
"Now look here! Ain't nothing wrong with a man startin' fresh, startin' new. Just looking to earn a living. Just like any man. Just want to settle quiet-like with some earnings."
A quiet man with a sordid past and many secrets, Ephraim Winslow is a newly appointed assistant wickie tasked with maintaining the lighthouse alongside his superior. He's an inexperienced and grudging figure who comes to the island looking to earn a quick salary after mysteriously changing careers from being a timber man. As his sanity erodes over the course of the film, his past comes back to haunt him until he reveals his current identity is stolen from his former foreman
- Affably Evil: Winslow's an odd example because it's hard to say he's openly nice either (A better example of the trope would be Wake). He doesn't try to cause trouble and may joke with Wake a few times, but he definitely dislikes him from the get-go. When he goes through a villainous breakdown from constant labor, alcohol abuse, and Wake's gaslighting, Winslow becomes a lot more irritable and even threatening towards him.
- The Alcoholic: Due to Wake's influence, he progressively develops a similar dependence on alcohol. It gets to the point where he drinks heavily while working, and even drinks turpentine mixed with honey after their rum rations run out.
- Ambiguously Bi: Winslow has a sexual fixation with the mermaid scrimshaw, the only 'female figure' on the island, and hallucinates encounters with one at various times. When drunk, however, he slow dances with and nearly kisses Wake before pushing him away. This can be interpreted as situational sexuality.
- It's implied to possibly be more than situational. In the masturbating scene, he starts to imagine both Wake and the real Winslow, however becomes uncomfortable and is unable to suppress his thoughts. This plays into the theory that Winslow only killed his boss due to severe inner turmoil over being attracted to him.
- Ambition Is Evil: After constantly trying to prove how much he deserves entry into the lighthouse, Winslow only meets his goal by murdering Wake.
- The Atoner: Zigzagged. He speaks of wanting to start over when Wake asks why he chose the job, even saying that he's done things that he isn't proud of. In the scene where he spills the truth that he murdered the real Ephraim Winslow, he expresses some guilt over what he's done. However, despite his remorse, he still murders Wake in the end in similar fashion to Winslow.
- Ax-Crazy: Winslow hacks Wake to death with an axe after being attacked by him, and its also possible he attempted to kill Wake earlier with one when he was trying to escape the island. When he killed his previous boss, he used a cant hook.
- Bad People Abuse Animals: In the beginning part of the film, he beats a seagull to death which seemingly brings down a storm on the pair and strands them for most of the film.
- Berserk Button: Both of his bosses met their demise because they kept referring to him as a dog.
- Berserker Tears: During his villainous breakdown, Winslow starts tearing up when Wake breaks him down to his lowest state.
- Beware the Quiet Ones: Despite Winslow's subdued and reserved personality, he's capable of angry fits of murder.
- Big "NO!": Has one when he assumes he's being toyed with again.
Winslow: That's the trouble with you!
Wake: That's the trouble with ye!
Winslow: With you!
Wake: With ye!
Winslow: No! NOOO!!!
- Butt-Monkey: Often subjected to Wake's gaslighting, borderline abusive work standards, and crude insults.
- Churchgoing Villain: While he admits that he doesn't pray that much, Winslow identifies as 'God fearing'.
- Covert Pervert: Winslow masturbates to a mermaid trinket in private or during the night.
- Creepy Monotone: Sports one during the start of the movie. He loses it as he stays longer on the island and becomes a lot more unhinged.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: He dies after falling down the lighthouse stairs from being being burned and driven mad by the light. In the afterlife, Winslow has his insides eaten and defecated on by sea gulls for presumably all eternity, similar to Prometheus.
- Deadpan Snarker: Despite never being a wickie or sailor, he certainly has the dry wit of one. Its one of the only things Wake ever compliments him for.
Wake: The only medicine is drink. Keeps them sailors happy, keeps them agreeable, keeps them calm, keeps them...
[pause, then Wake starts to laugh]
Wake: Curse me if there aint an old tar spirit somewheres in you, lad.
- The Determinator: His obsession with the light drives him to do anything to either earn the entry or break in. Even kill his boss.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Winslow nearly kills himself doing dangerous tasks to maintain the station, only for Wake to recommend that Winslow not be compensated for any of the labor he's completed. He's understandably pissed off by this when he finds out.
- Does Not Like Spam: Tells Wake when drunk that he hates his cooking, specifically the lobster. Then again, he could've just been saying it to piss him off.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: He mentions that he left his dad to go work.
- Entitled Bastard: Wake calls him out for being one in his "Reason You Suck" Speech.
Wake: ...Ye pretended to some mystery in yer quietudes, but there aint no mystery, yer an open book. A picture, says I. A painted actress screaming in the footlights, a bitch what wants to be coveted for nothin but being born, cryin bout the silver spoon what shouldve been yers.
- Karmic Death: Beats a seagull to death. Eventually gets Eaten Alive by an entire flock of them.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Killing Wake off counts as this considering the way he treated Winslow beforehand.
- Laughing Mad: Has one moment after he breaks the mermaid scrimshaw. Believing that he's broken a curse Wake placed on it, he celebrates by unnervingly laughing in his face to mock him.
Winslow: He went mad? You made him mad with that charm! That scrimshaw trinket! But I broke it, see. See! Now Im free...Im free from yer designs!
[Winslow breaks off in a crazed laughing fit as Wake watches in shock and pity]
- Last-Name Basis: Winslow's rarely referred to by his first name in the movie. He similarly calls Thomas Wake by his last name only.
- Nightmare Fetishist: The mermaid that washes up on the beach (if she's even real) has grotesquely shaped fins and even frightens Winslow with her eerie shrieking. Nonetheless, he still fantasizes about having sex with her.
- Pretty Boy: Being the visibly younger of the two wickies, Wake will poke fun at Winslow's more youthful appearance.
Wake: So, what brung such a one as you to this damned rock?
Winslow: Such as what?
Wake: Pretty as a picture.
Wake: Only joshing, lad, only josh
- Psychopathic Manchild: Counts as one because he's driven mainly by greed and an inability to accept the truth.
- The Quiet One: Not really chatty or keen on talking about himself. It makes a lot of sense after he admits to a few things...
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: He made a really long and crude one on the spot after he learned Wake was purposely misreporting his work to cut his pay, the speech doubling as a Rage Breaking Point. The quote below isn't even the full rant.
Winslow: You think yer so damned high and mighty cause yer a goddamned lighthouse keeper? Well, you ain't a captain of no ship and you never was, you ain't no general, no copper, you ain't the president, and you ain't my father — and I'm sick of you actin' like you is! I'm sick of your laugh, your snoring, and your goddamned farts. Your damned goddamned farts. Goddamn yer farts! You smell like piss, you smell like jism, like rotten dick, like curdled foreskin, like hot onions fucked a farmyard shit-house. And I'm sick of yer smell. I'm sick of it! I'm sick of it, you goddamned drunk. You goddamned, no-account, drunken, son-of-a-bitch-bastard liar! That's what you are, you're a goddamned drunken horse-shitting — short — shit liar. A liar!
- Red Oni,Blue Oni: The obvious blue to Wake's stormy and joking red.
- The Resenter: Winslow definitely resents Wake for his poor treatment of him, but also for his access and control of the light.
- Sanity Slippage: Winslow was probably already on the verge of one since he's in constant denial that he consciously killed someone. When cabin fever, alcoholism, vivid hallucinations, and mental abuse is added to the pile, he starts to lose all reason.
- Sentimental Drunk: It kinda confirms Wake's ideas on alcohol when it makes someone as mistrustful as Winslow more content and open to trust Wake more. They even share a drunken slow dance together and hold each other while Winslow admits to being an imposter.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: Swears the most out of the two men. This can be a justified example as he is younger than Wake (hence not as mature) and works alongside a former sailor.
- Villain Protagonist: The story follows the journey of a killer trying to hide from his past.
- Weirdness Magnet: Winslow is haunted by the lighthouse, mermaids, gulls assumed to be the souls of dead sailors, possibly Wake, and whatever other supernatural things that lie on the island. If the theory is correct that he already died and is a spirit traveling through purgatory, this would make Winslow "weird" as well.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Is implied with his relationship towards Wake, where he seems to secretly want his approval. In an interview with the cast about the movie's homoeroticism, Pattison describes Winslow as sort of wanting a daddy.
- Would Harm a Senior: At the end of the movie, he attacks and eventually kills Wake, an old man.
"Should pale death, with treble dread, make the ocean caves our bed, God who hear'st the surges roll, deign to save our suppliant soul."
An unpleasant old sailor, Thomas Wake is a more seasoned wickie and mentors Winslow throughout the movie. Supposedly a former sea captain, he speaks in a nautical tongue and has the temperament of a gruff, unsound pirate. His possessiveness of the light makes one wonder if he knows more than he acts like he does...
- Affably Evil: Wake, while aggravating and superstitious, seems well-meaning towards the start of the film. We eventually see him openly gaslight and denigrate Winslow.
- The Alcoholic: His use of alcohol to fend off boredom has given him an awful drinking habit. Winslow calls him out for it several times.
Winslow: Youve been drunk since I first laid eyes on you.
- Ambiguously Bi: Similar to Winslow, both express attraction towards women early in the movie; Wake recalls previous encounters with pretty nuns and was originally married before he left to continue his work. Besides the obvious slow dance scene and near kiss, it can be noted that Wake sometimes describes Winslow as "pretty" or a "handsome lad".
- Ambiguously Human: It's possible that Wake is a primordial guardian of the light, or even the very god of the sea. There's a consensus that Wake's character was modeled off of Proteus, a prophetic sea god from Greek mythology that would take the appearance of an old man.
- Axe-Crazy: Both Wake and Winslow take turns trying to kill each other with one.
- Berserk Button: Insulting his cooking is a BIG no..
- Dark Shepherd: Wake (although hypocritically) discourages Winslow's faults and obsession with the light through either threats, verbal abuse, manipulation, and even trying to damn his soul. However, when he warns Winslow about what's really in the light, it can be interpreted as if he's actually trying to save him.
- Dirty Old Man: When he speaks of a young woman that once caught his eye, he mentions how his future relationships paled when he thought of her.
Winslow: You feel shame when you lie with a woman?
Wake: I aint shamed of nothing!
[they both laugh]
- Similar to Winslow's sexual obsession with the mermaid carving, Wake has a similar attraction for the light itself.
Wake: Now. I'm a wickie and a wickie I is. And I'm damn well wedded to this here light and she's been a finer, truer, quieter wife than any alive-blooded woman.
- Eccentric Mentor: He's a drunken old sailor that believes in sea superstitions and attempts to curse his apprentice for disliking his food. Are you that surprised?
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Wake was married with children, however he estranged himself from his family by prioritizing his sea-life over them. He claims his wife never forgave him for it.
- In the original script, Wake's logbook held keepsakes of his children such as pictures and locks of their hair, indicating that he still loved them despite the estrangement that he caused.
- Even Evil Has Standards: The movie makes it hard to list this trope because we're never sure if Wake's even innocent for a crime that he condemns Winslow for.
- The Gadfly: Besides getting drunk and sleeping, he also likes to pass the time by getting on Winslow's nerves.
- Gasshole: He commonly farts, most of them are implied to be on purpose.
- Hypocrite: He docks Winslow's pay for reasons such as 'working drunk', 'habitual self-abuse', and attempting to harm his coworker. On any other day, Wake would be right to do this if he wasn't guilty of the same actions himself.
- Towards the end of the movie, Wake reviles Winslow for being a murderer. However, it's never settled if Winslow is incorrect about Wake killing his former worker.
- Last-Name Basis: Wake insists that he's called Wake instead of Thomas.
- Lethal Chef: Winslow describes Wake's cooking as "horse-shit", however he might have said that just to be rude.
- Jerkass: His abandonment of his family and manipulative tendencies (especially towards Winslow) make him a really unpleasant person.
- Mean Boss: Wake's an awful mix of this and a bad boss. Not only does he demean Winslow and overwork him, but he even attempts to kill him.
- Meaningful Name: Thomas Wake was the name of an actual 16th century pirate from the New England region.
- Signature Line: Anyone who's seen the trailer can probably guess it off the top of their head: "Whyd yspill yer beans?"
- Superstitious Sailors: Whenever he's not getting sloshed, bossing Winslow around, or farting, Wake seems to always be spouting old-timey sailor gossip. He even has the audacity to slap Winslow after the young wickie mocks the notion that killing a seagull is bad luck.