TL;DR – A truly unpleasant film, there are not enough interesting individual shots in the world that can save this overlong mess of a film
Score – 1.5 out of 5 stars
Oh my, where do I begin with A Cure for Wellness, it is a difficult film to approach because individual aspects of the film are quite interesting, but yet other parts of the film were horrific, and yet still so much of was just an overextended morose mess. Ok, to start the review off we will go through the setup of A Cure for Wellness, talk about its interesting aspects, and then look at its many, many issues.
So at the start of the film Pembroke (Harry Groener) the CEO of a finance company has sent the members of his board a letter telling them he is not coming back, leaving a potential merger to fall apart. The board then blackmails Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) to go to Switzerland to fetch the CEO back to complete the deal, or several financial irregularities will be pinned on him. When Lockhart arrives, all is not well at the “wellness centre” with the staff blocking his attempts to see Pembroke and mysterious discussions alluding to the fact that one comes back down the mountain. Then, (Flash, bam, alakazam) a dear through the window, and Lockhart is stuck at the wellness centre with a broken leg and a lot more questions.
Before we go on, there are some really interesting things going on in A Cure for Wellness, for one thing, it makes the most out of its amazing locations. Hohenzollern Castle has a majesty about it that the film captures amazingly. As well as this, the scenes inside really make all the best of its real hospital location, to help make everything feel slightly dated and off-putting. This is also combined with some really interesting shots and sequences. For example, the opening scene where we see a stock broker have a heart attack was confronting but incredibly well shot. Another facet is the use of German throughout the film, there are no subtitles, and so if you don’t speak German you will be just as lost as Lockhart is in trying to understand what is going wrong.
So while there are some interesting aspects of A Cure for Wellness, they don’t in any way make up for the sheer amount of problems that A Cure for Wellness had. Before we move on to the more problematic aspects of the film let’s talk about the more general filmmaking issues. The first thing is that A Cure for Wellness is simply far too long, so much time is wasted setting things up and going through all the reveals that we already know about. Look I am fine with a movie that has a slow burn like Arrival, or is trying to build tension like 10 Cloverfield Lane, but this is not the case here. It feels like it needed another round of trimming to help fix this pacing issue, which would have helped build tension, this is of course not helped by the film emulating the Return of the King school of ending a film. So A Cure for Wellness simply takes too long to get interesting, this means that for most of the film it was on the edge of being tense or creepy but it never quite got there, it also meant that tonally the film was all over the place. This was combined with some pretty bland music to make most of the film a real slog to get through.
Then, of course, we get to the end of the film and the more problematic aspects rear their ugly heads, and for that we have to [ENGAGE SPOILERS] for the rest of the review. There are some really confronting scenes throughout the film, from the death of animals, which were graphic even though they were clearly CGI, to the scene at the dentists, but nothing prepares you for the end of the movie. So big reveal, well not really because you saw most of this coming from a mile away, Dr Heinreich Volmer (Jason Isaacs) is the secret 200-year-old Barron, that was burned alive by the townsfolk, and Hannah (Mia Goth), the only other young person at the centre, is his secret 200-year-old daughter that he had with his sister to keep the bloodlines pure and now he is going to try and get her pregnant to continue the blood line along. This is shown in graphic detail, and it is disgusting, to the point where you wonder why the actors signed up for it. This is the first time I have ever experienced people walking out of the cinema in disgust and I don’t blame them.
So can I recommend A Cure for Wellness, of course not, you could take a hacksaw to this film and I still don’t know if you could make something interesting out of it. Look if you want to spend money at the cinema’s this week, look at Logan or Kong, but do yourself a favour and give this one a miss for your own wellness.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Trailer – Click Here to View (all trailers have heavy spoilers)
Directed by – Gore Verbinski
Screenplay by – Justin Haythe
Story by – Justin Haythe & Gore Verbinski
Music by – Benjamin Wallfisch
Cinematography by – Bojan Bazelli
Edited by – Lance Pereira & Pete Beaudreau
Starring – Dane DeHaan, Mia Goth, Jason Isaacs, Adrian Schiller, Celia Imrie, Ashok Mandanna & Harry Groener
Rating – Australia: MA15+; Canada: 18A; NZ: R; UK: 18; USA: R