In A Cure for Wellness, Gore Verbinski benefits from the lack of expectations tied to a huge property. No longer shackled by IPs like Pirates of the Caribbean or The Lone Ranger (or, one could assume, Johnny Depp?), Verbinski digs his creative teeth into telling a creepy tale more akin to The Ring than Rango (again, with Depp).
A young Wall Street wolf, Lockhart (Dane DeHaan), is sent to retrieve an executive from a relaxing spa in the Swiss Alps. Like all good spas (or dance schools) nestled away in remote European villages, mystery abounds. What is good Doctor Volmer (Jason Isaacs, who screams “bad guy” every time he is cast) really up to with all those wealthy old people? Is there something up with the water, shot simultaneously refreshingly and terrifyingly by cinematographer Bojan Bazelli?
The success of A Cure for Wellness may well depend on one’s familiarity with such horror-ish tales. This film would have dazzled 19-year-old me and inspired effusive praise; 38-year-old me has seen, read and played too many similar tales of psychological terror to be astounded or surprised by its reveals. Nevertheless, A Cure for Wellness’ greatest feat may be how thoroughly and unexpectedly entertaining it is for two-and-a-half hours.
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