Dane DeHaan and Mia Goth drown in this stylishly overlong psychological thriller
Having a fond interest for asylums, A Cure For Wellness seems to be eyeing me in a dark corner. It’s tempting not to slowly be intrigued by what’s put on screen. We all want to know the cure for life. Yet, Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Carribean, The Ring) tricks you (much like this movies’ fake campaign) into thinking you’ve got it when in reality you’re not even close.
A stockbroker (Dane DeHaan) is sent to a psychiatric facility to get the company’s CEO (Harry Groener). On his arrival, everything seems odd and misplaced. When he wants to leave, his car hits a deer which brings him back to the mysterious wellness center. He soon finds himself losing his sanity, and the cause may lie in the very center that’s trying to heal him.
From a visual standpoint, the movie is flawless. Gore Verbinski takes pleasure in stimulating his audiences’ eyes with beautiful Swiss Alps scenery or plays on color in the facility. His eye for detail is impressive while his style is pleasing. Cinematographer Bojan Bazelli (The Ring, Pete’s Dragon) knows how to make even the dullest looking color schemes come to life.
While dullness works visually, it definitely doesn’t work story wise. A Cure For Wellness‘ twisty story fails to match its impressive visuals. Much of it is due to Verbinski’s emphasis on style and twists. The movie commits the sin of untrustworthy. Verbinski draws the route to its various twists too early, and the audience is sure to catch on its many foreshadows. It’s easy for the viewer to fill in the missing pieces when too many pieces are already given early on.
Eventually, A Cure For Wellness becomes what you would expect from this kind of movie – it becomes disturbing. However, Verbinski never truly earns these scenes. Instead, it feels more like a quick scare in an otherwise unscary movie. The director is never able to create that unhinged feeling. He’s not even able to create a sense of dread as he did so perfectly in The Rings.
If anything, A Cure For Wellness does speak to the pharmaceutical craze and our obsession with living longer. Our society is constantly creating cures for diseases. The movie takes this idea and turns it around. What if pharmaceuticals are creating diseases for the cure?
The same can be said for our undeniable need to live longer. We value our lives more than others while failing to accept death. Our constant relying on machines or medicine to keep us alive may be the sickness, that Verbinski keeps telling us, that is inside of us. These obsessions may be blurring our moral and ethical decisions more than we think.
The movie’s run time ultimately run these questions mute along with its story. When it finally gets to its twist, the audience will either have no interest or will have already predicted it. For a film to make us wait 130 minutes before revealing its twist only to be underwhelming has committed an unforgivable sin. Not to say that there isn’t an interesting story lying within A Cure For Wellness, Verbinski just chose not to tell it.