Three-time Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski brings us A Cure for Wellness, which while clinically stylistic and pleasing to the eye, doesn’t manage to juggle the overly ambitious amount of genre cross-overs.
The film begins by introducing us to Lockhart (Dane DeHaan), an executive who has been caught progressing in his career via dishonest routes. He is then sent to a retreat in Switzerland to retrieve the company’s CEO and redeem himself. Upon his arrival, things immediately seem suspicious and he finds himself stuck in what seems more like an institute than a retreat. His surroundings and the people in them become increasingly weird and sinister as he’s trying to figure out what’s going on.
If you’re looking for consistency, then you’re watching the wrong film. What starts as a Wall Street drama, transitions into a clean-cut-clinical Mental Institute horror, basically a knock-off Shutter Island, before messily ending as a seemingly poor 90’s Disney villain fantasy. Visually, the film was actually quite stunning. The Switzerland scenery was spectacular to look at, the structurally ominous hospital and the meticulously shot cold-edged scenes with-in were very well done and there was also some great gore from Gore, leaving the audience wincing on more than one occasion. However, it just wasn’t enough to keep the nonsensical story-line from falling apart. It was hugely style over substance as he constantly failed to bring things together, but instead focused purely on aesthetics.
The cast gave some relatively good performances, Dane DeHaan played the part of the aloof business executive competently, while also nailing the genuinely unwell and overworked look of Lockhart, a success which should be shared with good casting. Jason Isaacs also done well as the austere Doctor in charge, with chilling glares and an unreadable resting expression, a similar role to that of his in the recent Netflix Original series The OA, along with Mia Goth’s innocent but creepy portrayal of ‘special patient’ Hannah.
Regardless of the top shelf visuals, awe inspiring locations, menacing set pieces, the dusting of gut-wrenching special effects and good performances, be it from the main cast or baleful extras, the shortcomings of the picture came purely from the writing and directing behind the story-line. That being said, it wasn’t terrible, it just lacked in tying up the loose ends, and took unexplained steps in random directions, putting the atmospheric tone at the forefront of importance, somewhat disregarding coherence. It also could have done with being a hell of a lot shorter, for what it was two and half hours was way too long, I found myself barely able to keep my eyes open two thirds of the way through.
Based on these factors, I really couldn’t justify giving A Cure for Wellness any more than 3 stars, and that’s perhaps being slightly generous.