The Cure For Wellness

I feel director Gore Verbinski has gotten a bad rap. His animated movie Rango (Johnny Depp) didn’t get the best reviews, but I dug it. I never cared for his Pirates of the Caribbean films, but The Ring wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been; even The Lone Ranger, which was a bomb, had its moments and wasn’t as bad as the critics claimed. In this, he doesn’t have Depp, but the memory of all the thrillers he’s ever seen. I leaned in to my wife and said, “Oh, that reminds me of Eyes Wide Shut.” Another time, it was The Shining, Shutter Island, Carrie, Island of Dr. Moreau, and Cats Eye. My wife was reminded of Rosemary’s Baby at one point.

The shame of it all is that it could’ve been like Coma. There’s something about evil doctors at a hospital, when you know something is going on but can’t prove it. And when you start to figure things out, you end up in one of those hospital beds hobbled and not able to get out. Although it is rather frustrating when the protagonist is stupid enough to tell all the orderlies he knows what’s up. That never works in your favor. They just find another way to break your leg, go all Marathon Man on your mouth, or shove eels up your butt (Okay, they don’t really do that, but…eels are used a lot).

The sad thing is that when the film starts in a Manhattan office building, the images are rather striking. It’s a shame the CEO and his cronies at this big company all seem cartoonish and unrealistic. Since one of their colleagues has sent a letter from a resort/retirement community in the Swiss Alps, they’re going to be screwed on a merger if he doesn’t sign some papers. That means they send lackey Lockhart (Dane DeHaan), a guy that looks 15-years-old, to go fetch him. Since he becomes more and more unlikable as the film goes on, it’s hard to ever root for him. Even when his root canal and torture starts to take place. When he first gets to the sanitarium, it’s beautiful, and Bojan Bazelli’s cinematography and Eve Stewart’s production design are incredible. It creates the most interesting atmosphere. I had the same feeling I had looking around at the bunker in Ex Machina. Unfortunately, those were the only good qualities about this film.

This gothic thriller was pretentious, and often rather gross. The story unravels slowly, as if the filmmaker felt he had a terrific mystery on his hands; yet everyone will know exactly what’s going to happen an hour before it does. So really, who cares how stylish it is, if it’s all crap? And believe me, it is. In fact, half of the things presented to us don’t make sense and never get explained.

The only actor that’s of interest is Jason Isaac, who does well with villain roles. He’s the guy in charge of the place.

There’s one young lady at the facility (Mia Goth). She’s odd, and you’re always wondering if romance will blossom. Well, what does finally blossom and happen with her is something that will probably disturb many. One scene with her that will make many laugh, but not intentionally, is when the two youngsters make a beer run to a Bavarian tavern. The thugs inside the place look like a combination of the Sex Pistols and the cast of West Side Story.

The movie was overproduced and unfortunately, underwritten. I just kept thinking of what Cronenberg or del Toro would’ve done with this interesting story. After 2 ½ hours of sitting there watching it, you might also wonder what an editor could’ve done. An hour taken out would’ve helped the pacing tremendously.

This gets 1 star out of 5, and is currently on my list of worst movies of the year.