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.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, 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>.