A Cure For Wellness 16
An ambitious young executive (Dane DeHaan) 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.
Gore Verbinski's made a career out of making franchise-friendly fare with Johnny Depp. A lot of the success of Pirates Of The Caribbean is down to his skillful efforts with making the films not just about the setup, but also the characters that inhabit it. The premise and the story worked hand in hand to compliment each other, but sometimes, it skewed too heavily and you end up with The Lone Ranger. While A Cure For Wellness is definitely not in that category, there is an acute problem with the film in that it doesn't really go anywhere beyond what you think it is and doesn't really offer up anything particularly original.
Verbinksi's been very much of the 'one for you, one for me' school when it comes to his work. He followed The Weather Man with a sequel to Pirates and Rango with The Lone Ranger, so one can only guess that he's got another franchise in his future with this. Yet, while Rango and The Weather Man were both unique, A Cure For Wellness isn't all that exciting. It's essentially Martin Scorsese's far superior Shutter Island with more German people. Dane DeHaan is a sleazy stockbroker who's sent to a wellness spa in Switzerland to bring back his boss so that he can be sacrificed / take the blame for unspecified wrongdoings at the company. On his way out with the boss in tow, he's caught in a horrific - and very well-shot - car crash that makes him immobile. Jason Isaacs, complete with Rickmanesque Germanic accent, offers to treat him with his own cure and thus begins the hallucinations and so forth.
DeHaan is a very capable actor and, by all accounts, he's approaching the material as he was meant to; all flop sweat and drained, jerky movements as he makes his way through the ornate surroundings. Mia Goth - what a name, by the way - plays the beautiful but airy young woman in the centre who seems to be under a haze and not fully certain of what surrounds them. Meanwhile, Isaacs is fantastic and gleefully enjoying himself as the Herr Doctor of the resort. By and large, the casting is spot on and all the performances add to the flavour. It's very much a gothic horror, so you'd expect the performances to veer off into the over-dramatic and it works with it.
Likewise, the cinematography and production design really works within the context. Verbinski's always had an eye for slick visuals and a strong vision for what his films look like, and this is no different. Sadly, what lets A Cure For Wellness down is the story itself. While it does have a lot of atmosphere to it - something that is distinctly lacking from modern horrors - the fact is is that it doesn't make enough sense for it to be worth getting invested in. There's simply too many glaring plotholes - nobody has a phone in Switzerland that he could ring for help? - to ignore and the finale, though gloriously over-the-top, will not invite much rewatching or further analysis.
It's a stylishly made horror that isn't a reboot or a sequel, but A Cure For Wellness doesn't have enough going for it to make it memorable.
Review by Brian Lloyd | 12:04 | Friday 24th February 2017 | Movie Review