Gore Verbinski directs this strange horror thriller about a young executive who is sent to Switzerland to bring back his company's CEO. The latter has been staying in a spa or "wellness center" in what can only be described as Dracula's castle so what could go wrong?
Dane DeHaan is Lockhart, the cocky up-and-coming employee who is essentially blackmailed into retrieving his own boss and who discovers just how unusual that mysterious establishment really is, the hard way. What was meant to be a quick job soon becomes a descent into Hell as Lockhart suffers a car crash, is forced to stay in the spa as a patient and slowly uncovers the sordid truth about this seemingly idyllic Swiss Alp location. This is a surprisingly derivative thriller as it evokes Shutter Island heavily in terms of plot and tonally resembles a reliably messed-up season of American Horror Story with shades of Guillermo Del Toro thrown in for good luck. On the plus side, A Cure For Wellness delivers its own brand of madness as well and what it's channeling is all good stuff. With the exception of a handful of all-too-familiar horror clichés, the film does work as its own thing.
This being a Gore Verbinski film, A Cure For Wellness looks beautiful from start to finish: the stylish cinematography, cool art direction and effective special effects all help make this a visually striking film. This isn't your typical jump-scare type of horror movie as it relies much more on building an uneasy atmosphere and occasionally showing you some disturbing imagery. Whether it's live eels being shoved down a character's throat or someone's teeth being drilled into, expect a bunch of off-putting moments throughout even if this isn't the constant gross-fest the trailers were promising. The film's main problem is its pacing: at about two-and-a-half hours, A Cure For Wellness' ridiculous running time poisons a film that, had it been edited down to the bare essentials, could have been a relentlessly freaky and ultimately memorable movie. As it stands, it's far too slow and has too much filler for its own good, even if it is well made and genuinely compelling.
This will probably be remembered as one of the most bizarre films of 2017 but that's about it. Fans of gothic horror should have a great time with the creepy imagery and the wacky storyline but everyone else might find it tough to sit through such an overlong and purposely unpleasant film.
Disturbing, beautiful, flawed.