Movie Review: "A Cure For Wellness" (2017)
I really wanted a weird-ass movie that delivered on style and pulp and shock. I'm so fucking glad this one delivered the goods; if it hadn't then that super-hook of a title would've been all for nothing. That would've been a waste indeed.
I have to say that this is definitely a love it or hate it kind of movie. It's long. We're talking two and a half hours. It makes you wait for the payoff. It intends to pace itself no matter how badly you have to go take a piss. Bladder be damned!! It goes into some pretty uncomfortable territory before it's all said and done. I can hear the complaints from the prudes at every Guest Services desk in America.
But that is the beauty of this movie. It's a Gore Verbinski film. What does that mean? If you don't know, Gore Verbinski is known for beautiful cinematography and locations, one of a kind characters, masterful pacing.....and running a little too long. He's the director who's given us "The Ring" & 3 out of the 4 "Pirates of the Carribean" movies. He has a visual signature that you recognize instantly.
Your protagonist is a Wall Street stooge by the name of Lockhart, who is played with slimy assholishness by one of my up and coming favorites, Dane DeHaan ("Chronicle", Green Goblin in "The Amazing Spider-Man"). This dude is sleazy, amoral, & a total sellout. He doesn't fuck around with this role. I admire that.
Anyways, Lockhart is sent by his firm to retrieve their CEO from a "Wellness Resort" in the Swiss Alps (filmed on location at Castle Hohenzollern in Germany). When he arrives he finds a place that is more cult compound than new-age health resort. They're all there for "The Cure". They all take "vitamins" in liquid form from pretty little blue bottles. None of them want to leave. It's paradise.
There's a mysterious girl who's equal parts clueless waif and ominous harbinger, played by the very unique Mia Goth ("Nymphomaniac"). The resort's head honcho is played by none other than LUCIUS MALFOY himself, Jason Isaacs! Isn't that enough for an antagonist? ARE YOU NOT ON BOARD YET? The man is an amazing villain. Period.
I know what those who don't like it will say (besides the fact that it is so long). It changes tone frequently. It can't figure out what it wants to be (i.e. art or pulp horror). I get it. Some folks need a straight line type of movie for the their simple little minds.
This IS NOT that movie. It's going to ask you to use your head and suspend that proverbial disbelief for the dark side of what would indeed be a medical miracle..........if that miracle came from a concentration camp. There are metaphors abounding here. You've got those "on the hill" versus the "common folk" in the village. You'll get a taste of "is it okay if it's for the greater good?" morality play.
It will make you more than a little squeamish in the taboo it tackles and the visceral horror of primal phobias (drowning, eels, claustrophobia). The setting of a turn of the century style Sanitarium, complete with all of the archaic treatments, should be enough to grab a hold of you.
Then again, I'm a weird motherfucker. I like to be made uncomfortable while being presented with a beautiful backdrop. I laugh at shit that you shouldn't laugh at. This movie appeals to freaks like me.
If you've got an eye for pulpy art it'll appeal to you, too.
Even if you're a little disturbed.