5 tech score
“A Cure For Wellness” (20th Century Fox)
“A Cure For Wellness” is a suspense thriller with a bit of horror thrown in for good measure. The first two hours brings the story and the suspense along steadily but then in the last half hour totally falls apart. Director Gore Verbinski keeps his movie train on the track until it just goes completely off the rails. Still you have to admire the mood of the film as well as the look of it all.
The movie tells the story of a young corporate guy named Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) who is sent by his bosses to Switzerland to bring back one of their corporate officers. Lockhart arrives at the rehabilitation/hospital and makes his request but then has difficulty convincing Pembroke (Harry Groener) to leave. While making his case Lockhart is involved in an accident which results in a broken leg. Now he is stuck at the hospital while he heals.
It doesn’t take much time for the audience to learn this place is like the Hotel California, once you check in you can not check out. It takes a little longer for Lockhart to figure it out. He has to meet the creepily friendly head of the institution, Volmer (Jason Isaacs), before things begin to sink into his head.
DeHaan has Lockhart’s look down to perfection. He is a bit pale and his eyes reflect a tormented soul. As the movie progresses he becomes weaker and frailer as each scene evolves. However the script has him being a little dense as he searches the halls of the institution, putting himself in jeopardy time after time. The audience gets those old “don’t go down to the basement” vibes repeatedly.
Isaacs is in top form as the evil Volmer. He manages to chew up the scenery as dramatically as possible while still giving his character a semblance of sanity. Meanwhile he circles the hapless Lockhart like a shark in the sea. You know sooner or later he will make his attack. Believe me he does so in some of the most gruesome of ways.
For those who remember Dustin Hoffman’s 1976’s film “Marathon Man” this movie will evoke memories of that harrowing scene between him and Laurence Olivier – the one in the dentist’s chair. You get that kind of scare in this movie plus a lot of others involving eels.
One of the major problems with this movie is you never know what is real and what is unreal. There is never a clear delineation. I was shocked by scene after scene containing shocking events, but upon reflection realized they were imaginary. Some others seem to have really happened, but I am not positive which ones.
The movie runs for two and a half hours and most of that time the film is building toward a terrifying climax. It finally hits a good wrap up point but Verbinski just can’t let it go. He has to go on just a little further and then end it in a completely unsatisfactory way.
The movie is rated R for profanity, violence and nudity.
It is a shame that a movie that has so much going right for it from the start has to end in such a contrived and dismissive way. Gore Verbinski knows how to put gore in his movie. He also knows how to handle a group of strong actors. But he doesn’t know when to let it go. That failure is what stamps his movie.
I scored “A Cure For Wellness” a relapsed 5 out of 10.
Jackie K Cooper