A Cure for Wellness marks the big return of Gore Verbinski — the mind behind “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “The Ring” — and you can bet his latest movie will leave audiences and critics divided.
The eerie new psychological thriller follows an ambitious young executive named Mr. Lockhart (Dane DeHaan), tasked with retrieving his CEO from a “wellness spa” in the Swiss Alps. Lockhart begins to suspect all may not be as it seems at the facility, after he too is admitted for the same curious illness that plagues all its patients. The film’s subsequent events test Lockhart’s sanity as he begins to unravel the mystery of the “wellness spa”.
A Cure for Wellness left both the audience and my peers divided. Some found the movie’s first half deliberate, while others thought it plodding. Some left the theatre blown away, others confused. Verbinski’s new thriller will leave a unique impression on ever viewer, but whether or not he intends to do so is entirely debatable.
I was among those who had high hopes for the moving during its first half. The pace is meticulous, weaving together plot points and hints that spark paranoia in not just Mr. Lockhart — but the audience as well. An aura of intrigue surrounds the “wellness spa”, which shelters a cattle of happy and old rich people looking for an indescribable cure. Nothing ever feels quite right, but there is always a believable explanation for the unexplained.
The cast-members handle their roles well. Lockhart is deeply flawed, with a hard-shell exterior protecting him from his childhood fears. The facility’s director, Volmer (Jason Isaacs), is far too nice to be up to any good. And the spa’s youngest patient, Hannah (Mia Goth), is written and played with enough intrigue to elevate her role as the film’s key plot point.
For much of the movie, A Cure for Wellness fondly echoes “Shutter Island”. Audience members find themselves hunting for clues, working to decipher the film’s mystery faster than those around them. By the end, however, they are left with multiple false finishes and unexplained plot points — made only to confuse without any sort of closure. See, about three quarters of the way through, A Cure for Wellness suddenly morphs from a psychological thriller to something that more closely resembles horror. Immediately, many of the events that occurred earlier in the film are rendered obsolete in favour of a big shock.
Verbinski’s latest outing is a solid film with a good cast, interesting plot and an eerie tone. The movie, however, suffers from having too many cooks in the kitchen: it tries to be a psychological thriller, a horror movie, commentary on the human condition and so many other things. In trying to to accomplish so much, the film sullies its promising premise.
All in all: If you’re not too busy scratching your head, you’re bound to have a good time.
*The Shak Rating System:
5 - Film of the Century
4.5 - Acadamy Award-Worthy
4 - (One of) The Year’s Top Movies
3.5 - Worth Price of Admission
3 - See it on a Tuesday
2.5 – Let Someone Else Buy Your Ticket
2 - Maybe After a Few Drinks
1.5- Are You Sure You Have Nothing Better to Do Tonight?
1 - The Movie Equivalent of a Zombie Bite