Gore Verbinski’s (Pirates Of The Carribean) latest big budget venture is a mishmash of the mystery/suspense/horror genres, that sees the director move into painfully familiar territory. So much so that you would swear that he’s trying to evoke the ghost of Stanley Kubrick, but in the most unflattering, unoriginal and derivative manner.
A Cure For Wellness tells the story of a young, cocky Wall Street executive called Lockhart, who is tasked with bringing an important CEO of his company back from a ‘wellness retreat’, located in a picturesque location of the Swiss Alps. But as soon as he arrives, an overwhelming feeling that something is amiss amongst the geriatric patients and their strangely sinister keepers becomes eerily apparent. As Lockhart is drawn ever more into the conspiracy surrounding the retreat, a race against time is set in motion, as no one seems to leave once they check in…
This is one of the most frustrating films that I’ve watched in a long time. If you’re a fan of horror, you’ll probably try your best to like A Cure For Wellness but Verbinski manages to make it a chore at every angle. He ticks the boxes of pretty much every pet hate that I have in a film, with its blatantly derivative, though sometimes impressive, visuals – borrowing heavily from The Shining and Shutter Island – the ham-fisted story, with its telegraphed twists and plot holes, along with a waste of a good cast on a cliche-ridden script. There is an occasionally brutal edge to some of the scenes that will please some horror fans but they felt like a strive for controversy and were gratuitous in their execution.
Dane DeHann (Chronicle) is not suited to his starring role as the young executive with a cocky swagger. It just doesn’t wash, though he is fine in the more perilous scenes. Harry Potter‘s Jason Isaacs does well in his part as the charming and charismatic head doctor of the retreat and Mia Goth (The Survivalist), as a sort of love interest, works well but all their efforts are for nothing. The overly long runtime combined with the all-too-familiar story grinds you down, and the director even fools you into thinking it’s all over. But no, Verbinski has the last laugh with an absolutely ludicrous ending that left me with my head in my hands.
While there are some impressive visuals in A Cure For Wellness, the lack of imagination and originality overwhelms any glimmers of hope for any sort of entertaining show, making it reminiscent of a war of attrition against the viewers. And it’s a real shame, as it feels like a passion project that has gone completely wrong for the director. Kev Lovski