The Doctor Will See You Now
There’s no denying that aesthetically A Cure For Wellness absolutely nails its look. With gorgeous camera shots, surrealist imagery and a great eye for composition and colour, Director Gore Verbinski boasts an impressively crafted film. Its a just a pity then that the coherency is missing from its complicated story and most of the characters are uninteresting and bland.
The story follows Lockhart (Dane DeHaan), a businessman with little time for anything other than his work. Tasked by the board of Directors at his company to bring back a man named Pembroke (Harry Groener) to finalise a merger between companies, Lockhart finds himself trapped at the mysterious facility Pembroke is a patient at in Switzerland. What follows is a deliberately methodical psychological journey to discover the secrets held at the facility. Whilst it never reaches the level of horror needed to make it scary per se, as a psychological thriller, A Cure For Wellness does a great job of keeping the mystery and dread going until its climactic ending.
For the first hour or so, its hard to fault A Cure For Wellness. Its shot incredibly well with unusual angles and effects. Whether it be blur effects, a reflective angle shown through a deer’s eye or the numerous symmetrical corridors that stretch off into the unknown, the cinematography is incredibly well crafted. Its unusual to see a horror pay this much attention to the detail and placement of props and in many ways, this film feels like a nod to Stanley Kubrick.
The second half of the film is where the story fails to catch up to the slick visuals. With an unnecessarily convoluted storyline and a bizarre stretch of time spent at a bar that’s disjointed and out of place with the rest of the film, A Cure For Wellness careers off course and makes it increasingly difficult to keep the suspension of belief going. Of course, I wont divulge any spoilers but the film blends a Gothic horror, monster movie, psychological thriller and science fiction vibe that never quite hits the mark.
It doesn’t help that main character Lockhart is unlikable and difficult to root for. Whilst it could be argued that unlikable characters have worked in the past with films like Nightcrawler managing to walk that antihero tightrope, A Cure For Wellness never allows the same attention to detail to get us invested in the character and as such, its difficult to empathise or root for Lockhart throughout the film. What’s left is simply the visual splendour and some horrific scenes involving eels. Lots and lots of eels.
Aesthetically, A Cure For Wellness is gorgeous; a surrealistic visual flair, sickly colours and some fascinating camera angles make it a very good looking title. The score compliments the visuals too, with haunting, melodic vocals and piano keys strumming intermittently. For the first hour, A Cure For Wellness builds perfectly. The second half is where the film falls apart though, and its storyline, bland characters and a tendency to devolve into tired thriller tropes holds it back. It could have been great but unfortunately A Cure For Wellness floats in a very good looking tank of mediocrity for vast periods of this thriller.