MOVIE REVIEW: “A Cure for Wellness” stars Dane DaHaan (Chronicle, Lawless), Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, The Patriot), Mia Goth (Everest, The Survivalist), Ivo Nandi (Boardwalk Empire [TV series], Sons of Anarchy [TV series]), Celia Imrie (Bridget Jones’s Diary, Star Wars: Episode I- The Phantom Menace), Adrian Schiller (The Danish Girl, Beauty and the Beast ), Harry Groener (About Schmidt, Dear John [TV series]), and Thomas Norstrom (Kitchen Stories, The Hunters). It is directed by Gore Verbinski (The Lone Ranger , Rango), who co-wrote it with Justin Haythe (Snitch , Revolutionary Road). When a young executive named Lockhart (DaHaan) is sent from his company to retrieve his company’s CEO from a “wellness center” located in the Swiss Alps, he soon discovers that there is something more sinister behind the sanitarium. As Lockhart peels apart its darkest secrets, he begins to be subjected to the treatments that makes the patients there happy.
I’m most certain that not very many of you have heard of “A Cure for Wellness.” Releasing amongst the likes of “John Wick 2,” “Fifty Shades Darker,” and “The Great Wall,” this film slipped under the radar at theaters, while garnering the most scathing reviews. The trailer, as you can see down below, is one of a dark, foreboding mystery with breathtaking cinematography. I was intrigued by its sight, but unfortunately could not make it out to the theater to see it. From the countless reviews I read for this, it seemed to be of an acquired taste amongst audiences. People either hated it or found it to be exceptional with hardly any middle ground. This didn’t matter to me, however, as I proceeded to watch it on the assumption that, as a filmmaker, I might enjoy it. It’s all a matter of substance to me, whether that is found in story, characters, or visuals, and this movie had it all. In fact, “A Cure for Wellness” is a bunch of things wrapped into one. You can call it a mystery, suspense, thriller, horror, or sci-fi if you wanted to and they would all be correct because there are many story arcs that weave their way through this chasm of a feature. For being two and a half hours, I was enthralled in what unfolded on the screen. The picture was ominous, dark, and lurking with cinematic treasures that I couldn’t pass up. From the get-go, the cinematography was absolutely beautiful. Every shot was simply amazing and well-crafted, and the direction was phenomenal. If you are into studying aesthetics, this is one film to pick up. It’s certainly the best aspect of this movie, with story coming in a close second. What is this film about? What is the mystery lying within this sanitarium? Of course, any viewer can guess that it is nothing good once Lockhart arrives there. There is an electrifying sense of something dark brooding within the sanitarium’s walls, and it is up to us to pay attention to what is exactly going on. Once you reach the climax, it all becomes quite clear. I predicted the twist before it happened, but it took me forever to figure it out, and I blame that on my end. Although this feature tries to keep things under wraps while sparing small hints for the viewers, it becomes obvious rather quickly what the big secret is. I won’t spoil it, though it changes the genre of this story. Throughout this thrill ride of intrigue you’ll come across many visuals and mysteries that are creepy and disgusting. This film does not hold back in nudity or grotesque visuals when it gets the chance, and it can throw you off. I think what makes this movie unpredictable when it can clearly be the opposite is how many trails Lockhart walks along throughout the story. There are many details that are tacked onto this that, while you are on the hunt after one mystery, you end up getting thrown onto another. It doesn’t become annoying because each new layer that is peeled back is interesting. You can’t help but want to unravel this sanitarium and its dastardly deeds, and that’s exactly what the writers do; at a very slow pace, I might add. This may come off as slow to viewers, as I have read in reviews. I for one did not grow tired of the adventure, but I will admit to dry spots that were laden throughout. However, even these dry spots kept me engaged to see what was around the corner. Everything is grounded and real, with hallucinations thrown into the mix that make things weird. The musical score adds to this fact, which is brilliantly crafted by Benjamin Wallfisch. With the theme of “Hannah and Volmer” playing in the background, it’s hard not to get chills. Everything in this is quite unsettling. There isn’t a sane person in this film besides Lockhart and some villagers outside the sanitarium. Even they can prove to be a bit creepy themselves, and you’ll find Lockhart going mad as he discovers more and more about this place. Dane DeHaan played the main role, and I think he did a relatively good job. He didn’t show too much emotion, but I think that’s his acting approach in general. I thought he did great in “Chronicle,” and I was looking to see him perform in more features. The supporting cast certainly did their jobs as they were all messed up and weird. Jason Isaacs was probably the best performer out of the bunch; I enjoyed his portrayal. Everything that makes up this movie is exceptional. The production quality is superb and it’s hard for a film major to pass down something like it. What it boils down to for critiquing is the story, which is a tricky situation. I think the worst thing about this movie is it’s ending, which isn’t even terrible. It’s more so a switch of genres, which can be unsettling due to the flow of the film thus far. The big plot twist wasn’t really big, though it took me forever to guess it, as I have mentioned earlier. I think the best word to describe it is disappointing, because I wanted something more shocking than the usual guess. As a whole, the story was really good and solid. It was very riveting throughout, however I wanted to be more shaken at the conclusion than I was. Besides that, there isn’t much else I can say about it that was bad. It’s like critics have said, it’s an acquired taste because it gives off that vibe. I enjoyed my time watching it as it was incredibly original, though it seemed predictable. For those who love beautiful cinematography and an amazing production, check this one out. You may find yourself traveling down the mysterious rabbit hole that is “A Cure Wellness.” FINAL SCORE: 89%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: