There’s something pretty perverse in taking pleasure in the impending shit storm that you know you are about to stir up.
Out in theatres now; A Cure For Wellness is not what you would call a structurally good film but it’s one where you can’t help but marvel in how batshit crazy it actually is.
Living in a world of eat or be eaten, ambitious young executive (Dane DeHaan) is on top of the Wall Street world, or so he thinks. After a meeting with some of his companies most intimidating power brokers, is sent to retrieve his company’s CEO from an idyllic but mysterious “wellness center” at a remote location in the Swiss Alps, however this is far from a simple pickup and retrieval back to the airport. He soon suspects that the spa’s miraculous treatments are not what they seem and that no one ever seems to want to leave. 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 here longing for the cure.
With his follow up to his much lauded The Lone Ranger adaptation you can at least say that writer/director Gore Verbinski isn’t afraid to take some chances. A stylish but narratively difficult affair, A Cure For Wellness is NEVER boring as it drifts into a psychological mind fuck of a movie that manages to dazzle you with some stunning imagery in a creepy effort that you can’t help but get lost in, even if you’re not entirely sure what the sweet hell is going on.
For fans of visual excess, this will be a movie for you as Verbinski fills the screen with such masturbatory stylistic choices that if you weren’t in awe of it all, it would almost be a little bit laughable. He splashes the screen with gothic, over accentuated angles, long creepy corridors and breathtaking vistas to coincide with everything that is going on inside this “wellness center”.
While with a narrative and character development that is flimsy at best this film that on occasion is as unhinged as a US presidential press conference, it actually kind of works. Verbinski is dropping us into a world that isn’t supposed to make a lick of sense, where the bad guy is obvious and everything is strange even though none of the characters really know what the hell is going on. He doesn’t just throw logic out the window he dropkicks it out of an airplane while “Tom Sawyer” by Rush is blasting in the background. It’s a gleefully absurd and warped affair and it totally owns it from minute one taking such an over the top dark bent to the proceedings at hand which are drawn out to a near uncomfortable level which still has real purpose to it. This movie is supposed to make us feel uncomfortable and it does that in absolute spades from the top all the way down to the bottom.
Dane DeHaan as our ‘hero’ fits the mold quite well as an unlikeable and arrogant young executive sent on an errand that he feels is beneath him. He tone quickly changes after an accident makes him a guest/patient at this facility if only to recover from his injuries but he soon discovers that bigger things are a foot. While he’s never all that likeable throughout the film we do sympathize with him as he seems to be the only one (including some of the patients) that he’s stuck in this isolated town and in a situation that is completely over his head. Mia Goth gets to have a couple of moments as the mystery girl whose held at this facility by the mysterious svengali like Dr. Volmer (Jason Issacs) who gleefully chews the scenery whenever he gets the chance.
This movie is never supposed to be scary, frightening or even thrilling; but it’s a two and half hour ride of unsettling creepiness that you just can’t look away from. It’s knowingly insane but it unfolds in such a unique fashion that you are slowly drawn into this world that is so fucked up, that you could actually believe it. A Cure For Wellness reminds us to stop looking for one, because sometimes the disease is a little easier to deal with then the remedy for it.