Male and Female
Oh, boy! Aren’t psychological mysteries fun? I had no idea what to expect while stepping into the theater to see A Cure for Wellness, besides the usual directing tropes of the bombtastic Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean 1, 2, and 3, The Lone Ranger). So naturally, when the opening credits passed and I saw an average Joe forced to travel to a Swiss hospital that utilizes water treatments, I went, “Wow! This is less like those stupid cheap horror indies, and more like an actual Hollywood production under a reasonable budget! This is by a director who actually tried to communicate something important through his visual style! This ought to be a cult classic!” Except it just isn’t, for some reason.
The eerie first scene features a New York employee casually grabbing for a cup of water. He receives a sudden heart attack and collapses onto the floor—dead. The very next chain of events focuses on a stock investor under the victim’s business, Lockhart, played by the Mr. Nobody sort of actor Dane DeHaan (The Amazing Spider-Man 2). His boss asks him to travel to Switzerland and convince a colleague to return from his overspent stay at a hospital.
Here, things start to turn freaky. All the members are wearing white robes to match the stark architecture of their maze-like home; the cream and white shades of the walls always seemingly closing in on our hero. He has no intention of staying, until a badly rendered CGI deer triggers a car accident, sending his leg into a cast.
Eventually, he finds the one he was ordered to bring back to the states, behind the cloak of a steamy sauna. Neither he, nor any of the others receiving water and medicine, has any plans set on leaving. Ever. Although Lockhart does meet one resident who pines for the outside, one much younger than the old and frail patients, one who I might add predictably becomes his love interest.
All the sequential events afterward consists of answers piling on top of answers to figure out the hospital’s inner workings.
You know, they don’t call Mr. Verbinski “Gore” for nothing. Each small episode splatters plenty of blood across the screen, supported by plenty of naked people hanging it loose for all to see. Although I’d hate to disappoint any of you men expecting a great time, almost all the nudists here are well into their seniority. These disturbing sights are given proper justifications for existing, as proven by a swarm of flesh-hungry eels honored by the community.
Though despite the refreshing shock value, the acting quality still falls short—especially with all those exaggerated Swiss accents! Now, I’m mainly referring to the villain, who verbalizes the most obnoxiously obvious British Bad Guy voice. Yeah, so a European country full of fake accents creates a pretty inappropriate backdrop for a creepy asylum.
A Cure for Wellness also has little staying power due to its flat mimicry of archetypes already utilized by virtually every European horror ever made. Additionally, any meaningful moments taken for Lockhart and his vulnerable new girlfriend to bond winds up tossed onto on the cutting room floor in service of the thrills.
…Which leads into the film’s biggest problem: the specific argument it’s trying to make. It apparently communicates how we cannot un-see the haunting truths of society, but the constant plot twists thrown at us, especially the one at the final frame, contradict said message as if Verbinski couldn’t decide which tale he wanted to tell. It instead feels he just resorted to winning us over by spurting out Shyamalan twists, following the leagues of better successful thrillers including Soylent Green and The Wicker Man.
As a side note, such suspenseful movies about cult practices are entertaining at first, yet once it’s over, you are left thirstier than before. Would learning about the spiritual, occult wonders of water and disease offer any real fulfillment? I have no desire to live under such practices, and I hope the same goes to you.
So long story short, A Cure for Wellness resembles getting a head injury while waterskiing. Even though the excitement hits you hard at the moment, no memory remains afterward.
Verbinski’s thriller talks an uncomfortable amount about the disturbing therapy used for the patients’ benefit, which includes stepping into a sauna-like box, swimming naked, doing arm exercises, and allowing hundreds of eels bite at their flesh. Such therapeutic remedies sound incredibly insane, until a particular plot twist reveals something completely different.
In real life, plenty of bizarre healing processes exist. These include doctors using leeches to eliminate blood swelling, injecting mercury into the bloodstream to cure syphilis, and electroshock treatments. Now, when an individual has autism, he may create his own strange means to calm down.
I know a couple of ways those on the spectrum have helped themselves to calm down during moments of distress, many of which sound completely barbaric. Temple Grandin spun really fast on a swing to relax herself, and stepped into a pressure device to squeeze her sides and release inner tension. In The Accountant, Ben Affleck’s character would each night turn on strobe lights and loud music, while using a rolling pin to inflict pain on his leg. It was his solution of getting used to his senses by overloading them.
Six-Word Lessons on Growing Up Autistic, Lesson #95: They Are Sensitive to Almost Everything.
Six-Word Lessons for Autism Friendly Workplaces, Lesson #53: Loud Music Can Be Especially Distressing.
I for one developed plenty of tactics to help myself calm down. They weren’t necessarily dangerous or brutal, just “hard to explain.”
For years, I had a routine of rocking back and forth in my bed at night, my arms crossed in an X-shape across my chest, a Dalmatian puppet named “doggy” in the left hand, and a puppet of Nala from The Lion King in the right. Although since I’ve hit puberty, I grew out of it, and today I sleep as normal as anybody else. Even though others found my behavior a bit unusual, rocking side to side helped me to relax after my active day, and ensure a proper night’s rest.
Another therapeutic habit of mine involved running around the room and verbalizing some story I thought of on the spot. I still talk to myself, except without all the running around, or time intentionally set aside for it. It has worked for me much like rocking back and forth in my bed, where it gave me space to let out the busy thoughts in my head. This is not a very uncommon autistic trait. I see all sorts of aspies do exactly what I do, and for similar reasons.
Six-Word Lessons on Female Asperger Syndrome, Lesson #60: Please Don’t Tell Us To Relax.
Somebody on the spectrum could also rejuvenate themselves by screaming, crying, running, or punching things. Yes, these can all turn into a potential public danger, but there’s always a possibility of calming down in a safe environment under these same methods.
- Let your child do the things that work best for him/her in alleviating stress. You don’t know everything your child needs, and you have no right to decide what works best for them when it comes to calming down the mind.
- At the same time though, make sure what they are doing is safe. You don’t want them to get injured in the process, thus increasing tension. Work with them to help them understand proper limitations on their therapeutic methods.
- Schedule regular appointments seeing a specialized therapist who understands autism. Having an extra mind who understands the autistic mind can suggest effective, safe ways to help your child help him/herself.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see reviewed, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
A Cure for Wellness. 20th Century Fox. Web. <http://www.acureforwellness.com/>.
Ryan. 10 Most Barbaric Treatments in Modern Healthcare. Top Master's in Healthcare Administration, 8 Feb 2012. Web. <http://www.topmastersinhealthcare.com/10-most-barbaric-treatments-in-modern-healthcare/>.
Snowden, Heather. 'A Cure For Wellness' [Credit: Fox]. Digital image. Movie Pilot. Creators, 9 Feb 2017. Web. <https://moviepilot.com/p/is-a-cure-for-wellness-scary/4204878>.