A Cure for Wellness

A Cure for Wellness

(2016)

Dane DeHaan must retrieve his company's CEO from a creepy wellness centre in the Swiss Alps in this psychological thriller from Gore Verbinski (2002's The Ring).... More

When ambitious young executive Lockhart (DeHaan) arrives at the idyllic but mysterious “wellness center”, he soon suspects that the spa’s miraculous treatments are not what they seem. When he begins to unravel its terrifying secrets, his sanity is tested as he finds himself diagnosed with the same curious illness that keeps all the guests there longing for the cure.Hide

Flicks Review

In struggling to come up with the best way to describe Gore Verbinski's bold new gothic horror, the term I kept returning to was “glorious mess”. There is a whole heaping pile of baroque horror insanity to enjoy here, especially if you're a fan of Verbinski's particular sense of visual lushness, but there's no denying that the threads don't quite fully connect in the way they were intended to.... More

That said, the manner in which the film eventually goes off the rails, narratively speaking, kind of feels in line with the overall mania of the whole enterprise.

There are multiple moments of genuine horror – the most disturbing clearly inspired by an infamous scene from Fredrick Wiseman's acclaimed 1967 documentary Titicut Follies, which explored the horrific conditions in a state hospital for the criminally insane.

Indeed, Verbinski pulls inspiration from a variety of classic horror sources, and while you wouldn't necessarily call the film derivative, it does struggle to manage the audience's familarity with genre conventions. Mysteries that are blindingly apparent to all are teased endlessly while other questions remain frustratingly unanswered.

Dane DeHaan is an appropriately willowy protagonist, but you'll be ten steps ahead of him the whole way. And you'll struggle to shake the oft-presented image of him enjoying a large glass of water. Good luck getting through this film without a loo break.

As the head of the hospital DeHaan finds himself trapped in, Jason Issacs acts as if he just stepped off a nearby pantomime stage. But it works for the film, which is more than crazy enough to justify his performance.

A film like this needs to give the audience what it wants, as well as surprising it. There's a little more of the former than the latter here.

Still, A Cure For Wellness is worth celebrating solely for being an impressively scaled studio horror film that isn't a sequel or a reboot, and it's a must see for anyone who likes their horror a little bit mental.Hide


The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 2 ratings, 1 reviews
Reviewed & Rated by
Your rating & review
Rate / Review this movie

BY cinemusefilm superstar

Narrative tension works like an inclined ramp with the viewer taken to higher levels until they are tripped over the edge for tension relief. The angle is low for comedy and romance, and high for drama and horror. If a film cannot sustain tension we call it flat. Two and a half hours is a very long time for a fantasy horror to sustain tension and that is why A Cure for Wellness (2016) feels more like a eerie melodrama. Once the film’s premise is laid out in the first quarter, the narrative... More tension curve goes the wrong way.

The plotline has all the familiar hallmarks of the ‘creepy Gothic castle-sanatorium’ oeuvre. An ambitious young American executive named Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) is sent to an exclusive ‘wellness centre’ in the Swiss Alps to retrieve a CEO who is needed to sign a company merger. He brashly breezes in expecting to breeze out in with his CEO in one day, but a strange car crash unexpectedly puts him into the care of the centre’s mysterious director Dr. Volmer (Jason Issacs). Shackled by a leg-cast, he discovers a laboratory that conducts wellness research involving carnivorous eels, cadavers suspended in formaldehyde, and unorthodox techniques for blood transfusion. The patients and staff are creepy, but the health-giving properties of the mountain spring water are endlessly spruiked and drinking strongly encouraged. Lockhart meets teenager Hannah (Mia Goth) who turns out to be Volmer’s sister but their sibling closeness takes on sinister overtones. When Lockhart uncovers the 200-year history of the castle and its baron, the weird becomes bizarre when it is apparent that ancient sexual rituals are part of Volmer’s wellness regime.

This film’s trailer is deceptive enough to create expectations of a completely different story. To its credit, the filming is highly seductive, with elaborate and imaginative large-scale sets that create a macabre atmosphere that promise an enthralling journey into the unknown. But the promise is not fulfilled. Once the visual spectacle is absorbed and the premise exposed, the storyline meanders rather than gallops and the tension curve goes south. The classic vampiric template is rolled out yet again with only slight adjustments to the method of blood extraction, and incest and rape themes have always been essential elements in this horror fantasy genre. The excellence of its cinematography and set production are unfortunately not matched by anything else in the film.

Fans of horror and gore may miss this film because of how it is being marketed. Even those who crack the code and rush it for their next haematology research project will find it a slow grind despite its great Gothic atmospherics. The unlikeable characters make it easy to remain disconnected which in turn makes it hard to stay engaged. With a tension curve that never rises, the climax comes out of the same bottom-drawer that most B-grade horror endings are found.Hide


Showing 1 of 1 reviews. See all reviews

The Press Reviews

  • The only possible cure for A Cure for Wellness would have been for the horror film maestro Val Lewton to have been summoned from the grave to chop it down to no more than 79 minutes. And maybe not even then... Full Review

  • The movie deprives us of either a tragic villain or a sympathetic lead, hoping that its grab bag of squirm-inducing details ... will suffice, when in fact, they reveal how a shorter, tighter treatment ought to have done the trick. Full Review

  • Dank with greenish tiled interiors and an unshakable sense of dread, this lovably icky horror film mounts a sumptuous, immersive universe, the kind that big-budgeted Hollywood rarely seems imaginative enough to try. Full Review

  • "A Cure for Wellness" is a lustrous box of genre candy, the self-revealing work of an auteur who has laid bare not so much his psyche as his online streaming queue. Full Review

  • There is tremendous visual craft and inarguable style here, but none of the discipline, the sense of pacing and proportion that would allow the filmmaker's creative instincts to soar rather than merely splutter. Full Review

  • A high-altitude horror – think a Bram Stoker reworking of *The Shining* or Shutter Highland – of real craft. Ultimately, though, the plot turns out to be thinner than the air. Full Review

  • There are flashes of icky Cronenbergian body horror; parallels with Park Chan-wook’s Stoker and Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak, but a lack of pacing and focus defuses the meticulously styled atmosphere. Full Review

  • By the time we get to the third act you’ll have either given up or be rapt in the film’s sheer lurching madness… Full Review

The Talk
86 %

Want to see it

What say you?