Finding an original film nowadays can be quite a challenge, it seems most big releases are either a sequel or remake! A Cure for Wellness aims to be a fresh new spin on the horror genre.
Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) is your typical high rolling Wall Street banker, who has earned himself a place at the top table at his firm. His employers uncover the underhanded methods he was using to close his high profile cases, which if reported to the SEC, will most certainly lead him on the path to prison. But there is a way out, if he can retrieve the company’s CEO, Pembroke, from a retreat in Switzerland, they can pin the blame on him. Though Lockhart may not be clean, his employers realise the potential for more money to be made, and in the process, get rid of the CEO who they believe has lost his mind.
It’s at the Swiss retreat, where Lockhart suffers an accident, waking up to find himself with a broken leg, and having been admitted to the facility. The trailer for the movie gave off a definite Shutter Island vibe, and that can only be a good thing! The Spa retreat at the centre of the movie’s plot is magnificently eerie. From all the endless rooms, corridors and gardens, the Spa is a great setting for this film. It’s here where our protagonist encounters Dr Volmer (Jason Isaacs), the director of the Spa, and a mysterious young girl, Hannah (Mia Goth) who spends her time wondering the facility grounds.
The film does wonders for Swiss tourism! As this has to be one of the most beautiful looking films I’ve seen. The castle is a spectacle, and some of the visuals that are obtained with the stunning Alpine backdrop is divine. One scene is which Lockhart & Hannah are talking by a water fountain, with the Alps reflecting off the waters surface is one of the many wonderfully shot scenes spread throughout. The cinematography here is outstanding. Director Gore Verbinski has executed a visual treat for movie goers!
The first two acts of the movie are pretty well done, DeHaan does a fine job as the unlikable money hungry executive, though he does a few things out of character during the film. Would someone as meticulous as him, just randomly sign a document without reading it through? As impatient as he may have been, it seemed strange to just sign something off, though I suppose, plot development! The entire Spa has a creepy vibe to it, all the patients here, seem to be more than happy to be here, a bit too happy! and its not long before Lockhart eventually discovers the hidden secrets behind everything. The movie does good to avoid relying on too many jump scares, preferring to slowly build up to the reveals, though at times, it feels like it’s dragging on. The film is pretty graphic, warranting it the 18 certificate. If your not a fan of the dentist chair, you may want to look away during one specific scene!
It’s at the end, where the film totally goes off the rails, and almost feels like a parody. Whereas the everything before the finale, was a wonderfully shot, enticing horror. The inevitable plot twist, is the twist that anyone paying any attention during the film would have called. The fact this is pretty much spoiled to us in a scene earlier on in the film makes it just that much more annoying.It’s disappointing that there wasn’t a swerve, and they went with what everyone thought they were going to go with this. From a macabre mystery, the film turns into an all out action finale, including the final showdown in the backdrop of flames! It feels very much out of place in a movie which spent so much time building things up.
Speaking of time, Wellness is full of filler. A run time of over 2 hr is certainly excessive, and the film could have been cut by 30 minutes easily. One scene spends about 5 minutes, in which Lockhart stumbles into a dark room and discovers what resides in there. There’s building suspense, but then there are scenes that could have easily been reduced significantly.
The ending aside, Wellness is still one of the better movies out this year, and you have to give the director credit for trying something new and original. Personally, the final act of the movie did taint it somewhat, but that’s all down to personal opinion. If your looking for something different to watch, and don’t mind being freaked out, by all means, give this a try!