THE PICKET—Gore Verbinski is back at it again with his new psychological thriller, A Cure For Wellness. It’s a gorgeously shot film with dark and intriguing imagery, but it’s held down by an unremarkably overdone plot.
A Cure For Wellness follows Lockhart, an ambitious businessman played by Dane Dehaan, who is sent to bring his company’s CEO home from a wellness center hidden away in the Swiss Alps. Lockhart finds himself a patient at the institute after his car is run off the road during an accident. During his stay, his sanity is tested as he tries to unravel the institute’s secrets.
First off, this film deserves to be recognized for its cinematography alone. The whole film is absolutely gorgeous, whether it’s showing off the cityscapes of New York City, the mountainous terrain of the Swiss Alps, or the gloomy hallways of the institution. If for no other reason, I would say this film is worth watching once for Bojan Bazelli’s cinematography.
The sound design crew also deserves plenty of praise. The sound is immense throughout. Just the smallest squeak from Lockhart’s crutches as he traverses the institute’s never-ending halls resonates in your head and manages to crawl down your spine.
Most of the actors give good performances. But Dehaan falls short throughout the film, which is bizarre considering his previous work in films like Chronicle, Kill Your Darlings, and The Place Beyond the Pines. Overall, Dehaan does a fair job as a curious patient, but whenever he has to come off as the intimidating businessman that Lockhart (supposedly) is, his performance falls flat.
This film is definitely not for the faint of heart, I can’t express that enough. Very few films have ever made my skin crawl, but A Cure for Wellness is definitely one of those rare exceptions. I can’t say much without spoiling the plot, but the abuse these characters endure can get hard to watch. So consider that your fair warning.
The film has divided critics, with about half of them hating the film and the other half praising it as a new cult classic. Verbinski is clearly inspired by both Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island…or so I hope, because the film’s execution and plot is similar to both. Some say the ending changes the story enough to save the entire plot, but I disagree. But—for the sake of spoilers—I’ll leave this up to the viewers to decide.
This is hard for me, but I can’t give A Cure for Wellness a simple flick-it or pick-it. If you live for dark psychological thrillers and have a strong stomach, I will recommend this movie for you, especially if you can see it at a matinee price. But if you aren’t well-seasoned in the genre, or if you aren’t willing to sit through a nearly three-hour runtime that’s full of bizarre and disturbing imagery, avoid this one or maybe rent it after it’s released on DVD.