A Cure for Wellness, 2017
Signed up the 28/03/2017
A Cure for Wellness is a psychological horror film directed by Gore Verbinski, starring Dane DeHaan. The film follows DeHaan's young and ambitious Lockhart as he is sent by his stock-exchange (or something of that sort) company's executives to visit a wellness centre to convince the CEO (Pembroke) to come back with him, as the company is in big trouble.
With the chilling opening words "we are the only species capable of self reflection", the film's tone is set and from there we expect a hell of a ride. But our excitement soon dies down. Very early on in the film we realise that this might not be the film for everybody, nor the film we've been expecting at all. The film instantly feels like existing in a lonely vacuum, breathing in stinging oxygen and, unfortunately, this unease continues to haunt us throughout the film.
At the wellness centre things get a little too weird and uncomfortable, and not the type you want out of a horror film too. The patients at this mysterious spa situated up a lone hill are suspiciously old and rich. Lockhart soon discovers that Pembroke, along with the other patients, are being crooked by the centre, upon its officials doing everything they can to keep him from being in contact with the very man he came all the way to the godforsaken hill to retrieve. He soon finds that "something is in the water" that is supposedly pure and the very "cure" that everyone is willing to trek up the hill for.
The story unfolds as though an amateur wrote it; no innovative spins, no exciting twists and turns, just a straightforward "there!" as though we owed the film the screentime (some 146 minutes, by the way). The Pirates of the Caribbean director disappoints visually as well. The direction aspires to an art-house aesthetic, but falls flat right at the door in trying too hard to pull-off a somewhat retro gothic horror with an edge.
One thing I was particularly impressed by, though, is the scene where the seemingly dead, half naked bodies of the elderly patients are floating in glass tanks filled with clear blue water "like specimens". If we had more intriguing shots like this one, the film would've at least been a wonder to watch, instead of the slow-death that ultimately becomes it.
A town's folklore is at the centre of the storyline, as cult and incest themes are explored. Many social themes that are relevant today are handled as well, but they quickly die down in the shadows before we get the chance to involve our emotions. The director took obvious inspiration from some of the films of a similar genre; two that I can think of in the moment are Edgar Wright's Hot Fuzz and Brian De Palma's Carrie (menstrual scene, anybody?)
The film is overall a slow-cooker that doesn't promise anything worthwhile at any point in the plot. A waste of DeHaan's sombre, gothic charm and talent, and possibly a waste of your two hours if you're not patient enough to sit through a redundant plot that has a few good shots and, somewhere in there, a middle finger at scientists and researchers who would rather make and keep people sick than finding/offering a cure- because, well, it's more profitable that way.
Signed up the 30/03/2017
Signed up the 28/03/2017
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