Words cannot describe how excited I am for this shit. This movie looks like a seriously mind-fuck of disturbing imagery. Ever since last year’s THE NEON DEMON (2016), I really became addicted to crazy visuals mixed with a psychological horror highlight. I haven’t the slightest idea what this movie is about, but… just shut up and take my money.
Let’s take a look at the cast. Starring is Dane Dehaan. You’ve seen him in such films as KNIGHT OF CUPS (2016), THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 (2014), and CHRONICLE (2012). I have no opinion of the man. I haven’t seen in in much, but apparently, Hollywood seems to be taking a liking to him. Maybe after this, I’ll have something more to say about him. In support, we have Mia Goth (EVEREST  and NYMPHOMANIAC: VOL. II ), the amazing Jason Isaacs (THE INFILTRATOR , the Harry Potter franchise, and THE PATRIOT ), and Carl Lumbly (JUSTICE LEAGUE: GODS AND MONSTERS , and TV shows JUSTICE LEAGUE and the reimagined BATTLESTAR GALACTICA).
Now for behind the scenes. Directing is Gore Verbinski, known for THE LONE RANGER (2013), the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films, and MOUSEHUNT (1997). He also partook in the creation of the story. Penning the screenplay, as well as being the second half of who came up with the story, is Justin Haythe, known for THE LONE RANGER (Hey hey, a reunion!), SNITCH (2013), and REVOLUTIONARY ROAD (2008). Composing the music is Benjamin Wallfisch, known for LIGHTS OUT (2016), WITHIN (2016), and HIDDEN FIGURES (2016). Finally, the cinematographer is Bojan Bazelli, known for PETE’S DRAGON (2016), THE LONE RANGER (2013), and THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE (2010).
Overall, I’m stoked. I love a good mind-fuck, so let’s get this show on the road, bitches!
This is my honest opinion of: A CURE FOR WELLNESS
Lockhart (Dana DeHaan) is a young and snarky businessman for a wildly wealthy company. The head executives take notice and have a private meeting with him. They reveal a letter that was left to them from their CEO Mister Pembroke (Henry Groener), who might have gone a little insane. They send Lockhart to Switzerland, specifically a wellness center with a dark history, meant to help treat the mind and provide happiness. Lockhart’s visit is met with… oddness, to say the least. Everyone seems almost too content with their surroundings and the heads of the center seem less than excited to set up a meeting between him and Pembroke. But after convincing him to come back to the States for business matters, things go horribly wrong when Lockhart gets into a car accident and is treated in the center where he starts to experience unnatural occurrences, and may possibly be going insane.
DISCLAIMER: This film is two and a half hours long. Get a cup of coffee and get comfortable.
Well, I kinda got what I asked for, but… yeah, there was a serious disappointment factor.
Where shall I start? How about with the very reason I wanted to see this movie in the first place: the trippy visuals. The movie’s cinematography is actually pretty stellar, but I think there was some large misunderstanding of what truly great cinematography means, and I have no idea who was at fault here: Verbinski or Bazelli. Here’s what I mean, in a psychological movie like this, it’s clear that every frame is supposed to have some sort of meaning for the entire. The issue is that I didn’t feel like that was the case here. Most of the visuals that were clearly supposed to have meaning just felt like pretentious camera angles that end up saying nothing, or nothing exciting to titillate the senses. It was just, “Ooo the train reflection mirrors itself, like it’s being split! This has meaning! Behold my metaphor!” I mean, to be fair, most of that is only in the beginning of the movie. The rest of the movie is simply well-shot, but for a movie that started off with a ton of visuals that had something to say, it’s pretty misleading. Maybe there was more of it in later parts of the movie, but I think by that point I switched off my urge to find good symbolism and just accept what I’m watching. Or who knows? Maybe all of it went way over my head and I missed the point entirely.
Trust me, I have other issues, but I’ll save that for a spoiler section.
There are, however, things I did like. Pulling a 180 over here, the cinematography is great. The white and pale color-scheme that I felt this movie had mixed with the intimate close-up camera shots made for a very surreal and creepily atmospheric movie. When you’re watching this, you are never sitting comfortably. Your skin is crawling no matter who Lockhart is interacting with, which room he’s inside, it’s not a settling movie. In fact, good creepy performances are all over the place. DeHaan as Lockhart is great, Isaacs as Doctor Volmer is perfectly cast as this shady-as-fuck doctor with some serious secrets under his belt, and Goth is certainly hauntingly endearing.
In fact, let me talk about Goth’s performance as Hannah, probably one of my favorite characters of the movie. In this wellness establishment, it’s clear that a majority of the patients in this are older people. Hannah is a special case who is the only young person. She suffered emotional trauma as a child and despite looking like an early twenties young woman, she has the mind of a child. Goth’s performance is outstanding. She carries herself almost like she’s a ghost or a zombie. Her voice is so soft and innocent, yet the way she looks at Lockhart is beyond chilling. You don’t ever really know what to make of her other than she is clearly some kind of victim, and you can never help but feel empathy toward her. If nothing else, whatever this institute is really up to, you want her to make it out okay. I love her performance and made for a lot of mystery and even some cute development.
It isn’t even entirely incompetently written. Provided that you’ve been on board with the movie, there is a sense of mystery and intrigue, so you’re always guessing what’s going to happen and you’re interested in seeing where this movie is going to go with every new development. And even when there is a new development, more questions crop up an you’re on the edge of your seat waiting for the movie to explain itself. It’s a very subtle kind of thrill ride. That’s actually ingenious writing.
But now it’s time to talk about the cardinal sin of this flick. The ending. First of all, I was dreading that the twist was going to be that Dr. Volmer was the original baron of the mansion all those centuries ago who tried to marry his sister and impregnate her who was infertile. Turns out, that’s exactly who he was… I think… to be perfectly honest, nothing is truly explained in the ending. It’s been implied for the longest time that the baron’s sister was unable to bear the child, but the child did end up surviving, but the baron didn’t know that the child survived. That child is not surprisingly, but very confusingly, Hannah. Okay… where the hell do I begin with this? I think I’ll just list my issues.
– When did the Baron figure out that Hannah was his daughter? She was thrown away and he didn’t know about her.
– This also makes Hannah’s long life unexplained. We know how the Baron’s survived all this time, but not really Hannah.
– Why does Volmer look like a fish monster? I know he’s supposed to be horribly burnt, but… no he looks like a fish monster.
– Why has it taken Hannah so long to get her first period? And what changed in her life to get it around this moment in time?
– Why doesn’t Volmer just say that Hannah was his daughter? There’s no reason to keep it a secret from her or anyone else. Again, tying in to WHEN DID HE DISCOVER THAT HANNAH WAS HIS DAUGHTER!?!?!?
– With the passage of time, one would think that keeping these secrets would be much more difficult to unravel, but it’s literally bad security that undoes his plans.
Ultimately, the payoff is incredibly silly and for a movie that took itself so seriously and was trying to be edgy and mind-blowing, but instead, we get a fucked up Scooby-Doo ending.
Overall, I was pretty disappointed. It’s very well-shot and acted, has great atmosphere and keeps you interested for it’s run time, but the ultimate payoff is incredibly weak and sadly ruins the movie, so I don’t see myself seeing this a second time. I honestly don’t recommend seeing it in theaters, even though this movie is made for the big screen, but it might be worth a rental, but only one viewing.
My honest rating for A CURE FOR WELLNESS: 3/5