A Cure for this thrilling psychological film would be a shorter version
A Cure For Wellness is the latest psychological thriller marketed as a horror film with visually stunning set pieces, countless nods to classic films, and a lot of eels. Gore Verbinski (The Ring, Pirates of the Carribbean) puts his trademark style to the cold moodiness of the Swiss Alps, and Dane DeHaan does his best to step into the shoes of noir detective in this fascinating yet overlong look at what “wellness” really means.
A Cure For Wellness begins with stockbroker Lockhart played by Dane DeHaan, looking like the younger brother of Leonardo DiCaprio in Wolf of Wall Street. He anxiously chews dozens of nicorette gum pieces on a train flying through tunnels as he fibs financial numbers on his laptop. The next day he gets called into the boss’s office at his uppity New York firm. He thinks he’s getting a promotion, but the board is onto him, knowing he faked the numbers. Instead of sending him to prison, the board persuades him to go to a mysterious spa in the Swiss Alps to retrieve an employee who ran away named Pembroke (Harry Groener).
A Cure For Wellness is one of the most beautifully filmed horror films to come out in a long while, but sadly, with a running time of 146 minutes, it’s artistic vision is taken for granted about halfway through. There are a few too many long sequences of gorgeous eye candy, but not a whole lot going on, that could have been spared in the editing room. One of the most interesting parts of the art direction is the inside world of the spa versus the outside world of New York City, or the bizarre bar that Lockhart and Hannah go to. The spa is all white, with hints of teal and aqua, with water prevalent, contrasted to the dark rainy grays and blacks of the city. Most of the film looks like it could take place in the 1950’s, until Lockhart and Hannah walk into a bizarre pub that looks like an early 90’s grunge bar in Portland, Oregon. Think of acid wash jeans, sleeveless jean jackets, primped hair, lots of dark eyeliner, packs of cigarettes, and a jukebox that plays goth techno.
This marks as Dane DeHaan’s first time as a leading man in a big budget Hollywood movie. He does a great job carrying the movie, even though it’s hard not to notice how similar his role is to both DiCaprio’s Shutter Island and Nicholson’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. But, through all of the distractions, DeHaan is always believable even when his character is terribly unlikeable. Mia Goth plays the monotone, robotic Hannah effectively, (funny how her real name is literally Goth). She gives nods to Alice and Sissy Spacek in Carrie (in fact, there is a scene where she gets her first period and, shock, her reaction is eerily similar to Carrie, without all the mirror smashing and fire burning and all).
While A Cure For Wellness suffers in length, it creates a stunning world of horrors in a gorgeous landscape. There are phenomenal set pieces, intricate costumes, and a lot of creepy eels. It’s a mix of many that came before it, and it pays homage to all the references. There’s elements of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Shutter Island, Edward Scissorhands, Alice in Wonderland, Carrie, Cape Fear, The Wicker Man, and The Village. While you might be sore after watching this extremely long movie, one thing is for sure, you won’t forget it. Also, you most certainly won’t forget the haunting lullaby score by Benjamin Wallfisch, that caused several people to hum it on their way out of the theater. With all the greatness, one can’t help but think that the ultimate cure for this film, would be to cut out at least forty minutes.
Here is the trailer: