Movie Review - A Cure for Wellness

It's not clear by the end what exactly is happening. It boils down to a man wanting to dominate a young girl sexually and reclaim something he supposedly lost. In the process, he commits maniacal, science experiments or treatments, which seemingly drain the life of others in order to maintain his vitality. At least, that's my best guess. I'm not sure there's much here that makes logical sense. It's essentially a horror film, so it doesn't have to make logical sense. It's just in a post The X-Files world, horror or thrillers are better when they adhere to some kind of internal logic that's clear or evident.

All that can be ascertained is something insidious is happening with water and eels. None of it is reasonable. Director Gore Verbinski merely uses it to establish a creepy mood, to unnerve the audience. This can be fine if the pay off is spectacular. The pay off in the recent film Split was spectacular, more spectacular than here. The pay off in this movie was instead gross and a total conflagration, but it didn't explain anything.

Verbinski does get some great shots of the Swiss Alps. The castle where this story takes place is a beautiful location that offers some stunning vistas. Yet, what sinks it is the narrative being so convoluted. Once it's revealed who the true bad guy is and his disgusting motivation, the narrative seems even more convoluted.

Dane DeHaan (Chronicle and The Amazing Spider-Man) stars as Lockhart, a man who works at a huge financial firm in Manhattan. The firm is going to be subject to a SEC investigation, but there's also a pending merger that will be derailed if the investigation isn't stopped. Lockhart is very ambitious. He's a total workaholic who's become bitter and cynical, along with being power-hungry. He has to travel to Switzerland to retrieve one of the firm's executives named Pembrooke in order to be the fall guy.

Jason Isaacs (The Patriot and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) co-stars as Volmer, the director of the sanitarium in Switzerland where Pembrooke has been instituted. He seems to be this benevolent doctor who wants to heal people, these ailing or frustrated business executives. He seems gentle and calm, but obviously something sinister is lurking underneath his caring veneer.

The conflict is when Lockhart wants to take Pembrooke back to New York but the director won't let them leave. Once the movie ends, the director holding them hostage seems ridiculous and all the trouble could have been avoided if the director had simply let them go. It's not like the TV series Wayward Pines, where there is an overriding reason why the people are being held on this property. Here, there is no reason.

Rated R for disturbing violence, a sexual assault, graphic nudity and language.
Running Time: 2 hrs. and 26 mins.


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