Director: Gore Verbinski
Writer: Justin Haythe
Cast: Dane DeHaan, Mia Goth, Ivo Nandi, Adrian Schiller, Celia Imrie, Harry Groener and Jason Isaacs
Synopsis: An ambitious young executive is sent to retrieve his company’s CEO from an idyllic but mysterious “wellness center” at a remote location in the Swiss Alps but soon suspects that the spa’s miraculous treatments are not what they seem.
*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*
Gore Verbinski is one of those director’s who makes films that you like or don’t. Sure the same can be said for all directors, but Verbinski also has a weird filmography. From The Mexican, The Ring to the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films, Rango and finally The Lone Ranger. So while A Cure for Wellness had some potential from the trailers, so it’s a bit of a disappointment to see the film that had a lot of potential and sparks of great scenes, to fall apart.
The film follows Lockhart (Dane DeHaan), a young executive at a financial service firm in New York City who is ordered by his board to go get the firm’s CEO, Pembrooke (Harry Groener), at a spa resort in the Swiss Alps after he sends them a weird letter. However, there is extra incentive for Lockhart in getting back the CEO sooner rather than later, but when Lockhart arrives and Pembrooke doesn’t want to leave, Lockhart leaves to regroup only to get into an accident, get a broken leg and has to stay at the resort. However, the more Lockhart stays, the more mysterious and disturbing the resort is.
Despite what I said at the beginning, A Cure for Wellness does have some great things going for it. The cinematography by Bojan Bazelli, who has worked with Verbinski on The Ring and The Lone Ranger, is equal parts beautiful and horrifying. Add on the production design and the film looks like it could be set in any time period, with the exception of Lockhart using a cell phone at the beginning of the film. Also, the nice little touches of horror that Verbinski scatters throughout the film adds to the sense of mystery and dread the film needs.
However, when it comes to everything else, it’s a huge hit-or-miss. A Cure for Wellness has too much going on for its good, and that’s saying something considering the film is two-and-a-half hours long. The film essentially has three different stories going on, but only two of them actually make the film worthwhile. Those two storylines involve the history of the resort and how it connects to the head doctor in Volmer (Jason Isaacs) and Hannah (Mia Goth), the only other young person around. There is a third plot point that involves Dane DeHaan’s Lockhart and a personal tragedy, but it doesn’t really feel like it serves the overall narrative, and could have easily been cut out.
When it comes to the cast, the strongest member is Mia Goth, but the negative aspect is that she’s not in the film enough. Hannah serves a great purpose, but the true nature isn’t revealed until the final act, and by then you’d probably figure it out so the impact is lessened. However, it doesn’t make her journey great to watch. When it comes to DeHaan, he’s feel a bit miscasted at the beginning of the film. He’s plays off as “tough” Wall Street guy, but it comes off a bit weird. I don’t know if it’s just me, and it’s nothing against DeHaan either, because I think he’s a great actor when given the right material, and once he’s stripped of the Wall Street guy, he’s good. When it comes to Jason Isaacs, well, at this point he can play a bad guy or mysterious/maybe evil character in his sleep.
However, the biggest issue I have with the film is the length. I’m not one to usually complain about a film’s length, but A Cure for Wellness’ biggest weakness is how long it is. Like I said before, some of the secrets you could probably figure out or, at least, guess so it takes away some of the impact the reveals have. Another added factor to the length is there are scenes that could have easily been cut, and not affect the final product, and potentially make the film better.
All in all, A Cure for Wellness was a –personal– disappointment. While the film does introduce some interesting concepts it fails to really execute on them or makes them fall flat instead of excite. The only real saving grace in the film is the fantastic visuals, production design and score.
A Cure for Wellness
3 out of 5