Monday, February 27, 2017

Movie Review: "A Cure for Wellness" (2017)

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Director: Gore Verbinski
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 26 minutes

Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) is a young business executive who has just been sent on a task to retrieve the CEO of his company, Pembroke (Harry Groener), from a health spa in the Swiss Alps. When Lockhart arrives, he starts having strange experiences and notices that it seems nobody wants to leave this place.

"A Cure for Wellness" is directed by Gore Verbinski, who also wrote the film along with Justin Haythe. It stars Dane DeHaan as a young, extremely ambitious sales executive named Lockhart. He is called to meet with the board of directors, who have just received a letter from the CEO of the company named Pembroke, played by Harry Groener, stating he is not be returning from the health spa he is at in the Swiss Alps. The company, however, is trying to conduct a merger, and Pembroke's signature is required to close the deal. The board's solution is to send Lockhart to this remote Swiss Alps center to retrieve his boss. Joining DeHaan is Jason Isaacs, who plays Dr. Volmer, the man who runs the health spa, a place where nothing is quite as it seems. Also in the movie are Mia Goth, Ivo Nandi, Adrian Schiller, and Celia Imrie.

Gore Verbinski and Justin Haythe do a great job creating a visually stunning, very creepy, and quite engaging original horror/thriller/mystery, regularly blurring the lines between fantasy and reality, leaving the audience guessing what is real and what is imagined. This almost feels like a film you might see from the likes of Terry Gilliam or David Lynch rather than Gore Verbinski. The way the sets are designed almost look like a turn of the century industrial hospital chic melded with modern design. These set pieces have a gorgeous yet haunting aesthetic. Add this to a striking mix of old school gowns and get-ups and new age business suits and you've got an intriguing picture to look at as you're taken on a bizarre, long ride.

We are taken through many twists and turns of the mystery, trying to discover what is going on and left wondering if what we're imagining was all a lie. We remained engaged throughout most of the film. It helps to have good acting and interesting performances from Dane DeHaan and Mia Goth. Jason Isaacs also gives a great performance as Dr. Volmer, who runs the wellness center and feigns concern on the outside, but clearly has more sinister motives behind his actions. The biggest fault of "A Cure for Wellness" is that it is too damn long, much longer than it needs to be. There are at least four instances that we counted which felt like false endings, and yet the story kept on moving right along for what felt like an absurd amount of time. That being said, we never really felt bored or disinterested despite its length. It may have also felt longer than necessary because some of the subject matter does venture into the ultra-taboo by the third act, and the truly disturbing actions by some of its characters will shock some viewers, but not in the way you may imagine. We'll just say "it goes there."

"A Cure for Wellness" is both beautiful and ugly, vapid and freaky all at the same time. This could be a great film for fans of the psychological horror thriller, and one we think people will start to come around to as a cult classic in a decade (or even in a few years). Still, it isn't without its flaws and we recognize this, but for what it's worth, we mostly enjoyed it.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~6.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~40%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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