A Cure for Wellness Review

“A Cure for Wellness” is directed by Gore Verbinski starring Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, and Mia Goth.  The story is about a young Wall Street executive who is tasked to retrieve a big wig CEO from a mysterious “wellness center” located in Switzerland.  Lockhart (DeHaan) inquires about the patient at the wellness center and soon finds himself stranded inside this labyrinth of insanity.  He soon learns that nobody at this place gets well and that once checked in, nobody ever leaves.  Gore Verbinski crafts a very Lovecraftian/Twilight Zone type tale that is very reminiscent of Stanley Kubric’s “The Shining” and Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island.”

“A Cure for Wellness” is an extremely effective horror film.  It doesn’t rely on gore and jump scares, like most horror films do today but instead on intrigue, weird and creepy visuals and surrealism which makes for a very cerebral experience.  The story is very intricate and convoluted at times but it is so engrossing and mysterious with many twists and turns along the way that will satisfy you.  I mentioned that this has a “Shinning” feel to it with most of its plot very similar to “Shutter Island.”  There are a lot of moments in this film so reminiscent of the latter but where this film departs quite a bit is the third act which I still don’t know what to make of.

“A Cure for Wellness” is a solidly acted mystery thriller that stands on its own.  It’s very macabre in nature with some great horror surrealism.  But what really stood out to me was the tone of the movie.  A lot of movies seem to struggle to maintain a synthetic tone throughout the entire picture but “A Cure for Wellness” maintains is surreal style throughout.  Dana DeHaan is terrific in this movie as is Mia Goth who plays Hannah.  And of course Jason Isaacs as the wellness center doctor was equally terrifying and strong.  Isaacs plays a terrific baddie and here he spares no expense to please his fans.  Gore Verbinski of “The Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise and the creator of the original “Ring” franchise directs this film with perfection.  Verbinski has long been rumored to helm a film adaptation of the “Bioshock” video game franchise and after seeing this movie I am now more than ever certain that he would do an amazing job as “A Cure for Wellness” has a lot of nods to the famous survival horror video game series.  And that is exactly what “A Cure for Wellness” is.  It’s a survival horror mystery film filled with amazing twists and turns.  The other thing that really stands out is the cinematography by Bojan Bazelli.  This is a gorgeous film to look at and there are some amazing shots in here.  Bojan really gives the look of the film that dark and menacing presence all from behind the lenses.

The biggest issue that I had with this film is the convoluted plot.  There is so much to digest here and so many dark twists that sometimes they are effective and sometimes they aren’t.  The movie has a slow building menacing presence that soon turns into a sort of monster movie at the end and I don’t know if I bought it because of the lack of explanation.  I understood the ending fine but they didn’t go into explaining certain things well enough for me to be on board with how the movie ends and the big reveal.  I also think the movie is too long.  There are many moments in here that could have been trimmed down or cut to make the movie seem faster and tighter and even more horrific.  There are many raised questions that the film offers that go unexplained and that was a little bit frustrating.  But out of all the negatives and nitpicks, this was a really interesting fun film that I really enjoyed.  For me it was pure escapist fun and I felt myself sucked into this world.  Just like Scorsese’s “Shutter Island” the film provides a great story that isn’t about shock, gore and jump scares.  This film goes beyond that nonsense and delivers something teething, raw and malicious like an eel.

“A Cure for Wellness” isn’t a perfect horror film by any means nor is it as good as “Shutter Island” but it does work incredibly well and the interesting story, the characters and the eerie mystery makes this such a unique horror film in recent memory.  I loved the look, the surrealism and the macabre nature of the suspense and mystery.  This film will leave you guessing until the very end and will shock you in those final moments.  This was a great time at the movies and if you like surrealism with your horror then this makes for the perfect breakfast.  Gore Verbinkski does an incredible job here and delivers a truly effective movie that horror nuts will enjoy.

Grade:  A- 

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