Read “RETREAD” as “RETARD” for a second there didn’t you? LOL
A Cure for Wellness is a 2017 psychological horror film directed by Gore Verbinski, written by Gore Verbinski and Justin Haythe and stars Dane DeHaan, Jason Issacs, and Mia Goth. The film follows the life of a young corporate executive who is sent to retrieve his company’s CEO from a wellness facility in the Swiss Alps.
Let me judge this film by how it looks. This is one of the most gorgeously shot movies one might have the pleasure/displeasure of watching (depending on how many “fucked up” movies you’ve watched). Every frame is deliberately constructed, every camera movement has a purpose, every shot looks like a bloody award-winning photograph, the color palette is fantastically unsettling, and movies like this are the reason I dread visiting places that seem too good to be true. I’ll stay in my grimy apartment thank you very much. Lest I forget, the sound design is absolutely brilliant too.
Now, let’s peel the proverbial onion and look at what this film has to offer in terms of substance. This film is long. 2 hours and 26 minutes long. I’m not one to complain about length because one of my favorite films of all time, The Dark Knight, spans about the same length of time. The question then moves to what does this film have to offer in terms of plot to warrant that length. Honestly speaking, it has distractingly little.
I would compare this film to Nirvana’s Heart-Shaped Box’s music video. The good people who made that video blew their load way too soon and showed the viewer all the “cool” imagery they had going for them within the first minute. After that, the video threads back on those images and alters them slightly to keep the viewer engaged. That video, however, had a great song as a companion to arrest an audience, this film suffers from having no such arresting force.
If this is your (I don’t know) 10th “weird” movie, you’ve seen everything this film is going to show you. Maybe not as well shot as this, but you’ve seen it. There are callbacks to Oldboy, Shutter Island, A Clockwork Orange, a bit of Hostel, you catch my drift. If the film is trying to achieve an unsettling mood, it misses its mark as it lacks the kinetic energy of those aforementioned films.
Then come the characters. God damn it man, why? Why do horror films do this to me every time? Why do you guys make smart people stupid oh so quickly? I’m unsure about how much this spoils the film so please be warned before you read ahead.
- If I’m running a shady medical facility and a dude comes to me and says I want to take one of your patients back with me and the patient is willing to go back with the dude (whilst not realizing something shady is happening there), why would I stop him? The bigger picture dictates I let him go to keep my operation a secret right? Am I wrong with this thought?
- I’m a dude who has been given this magical water to keep me healthy but I see a weird bug floating in it, why would I ever drink it again?
- I see my flush handle shaking uncontrollably. Would I not call a plumber or, at the very least, take a peek inside the flush tank instantly rather than waiting for it happens a few more days just to be sure that the handle is actually shaking? I mean, come on.
- If I’m a creepy dude running a creepy medical facility, why would I be/hire people who behave creepily? Why don’t we hire normal people to cover things up better?
Aaaaaaah, so many reasons to be bugged by this film. All this could be forgiven if the film’s 4th act didn’t happen. The film hints at this ridiculously cliched conclusion from act 1. It does it’s nudging to arm bruising lengths and when the eventual resolution happens, I felt so let down by the 2 hours that preceded it. I refuse to believe that the film has a deeper meaning than it’s surface level story just because it has a kooky final frame. You are just an exercise in frustration movie, not A Clockwork Orange.
I wanted to like this movie. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love “headcase” films. There is so much to love in this film but each of those moments of visual brilliance is undercut by downright daft storytelling that alludes to deeper meanings while it can’t get its surface level story to make sense. Eery imagery and creepy sounds cannot carry a film, case and point A Cure for Wellness.