Dane DeHaan Jason Isaacs Mia Goth
For those who love horror thrillers, this will probably fit the bill. Less enthusiastic fans, however, may find that although it is strong in the mystery that is set up in the first half with fine cinematography and sound, the last half-hour should have been cut, especially since the film is overly long at 146 minutes. Director Gore Verbinski and the editors also missed a few inconsistencies, such as a car that has crashed way down into a ravine ends up by the side of the road a few scenes later.
The story starts out well in setting up the mystery of a man dying suddenly of a heart attack after he reads the guilt-ridden letter of a dear friend/colleague who is CEO of his company and who has fled to a wellness center in Switzerland. Up and coming, ambitious Lockhart (DeHaan), junior employee in this large U.S. investment firm, has been recognized by the board, which forces him by threat to go to Switzerland and retrieve CEO Roland Pembroke, who needs to take care of some paperwork before a merger with another company can take place. Time is of the essence, because the company’s stock is falling.
Lockhart hustles off to Switzerland, expecting to bring Pembroke back in 24 hours. Then events begin to happen. Despite his pleas for an expeditious departure, the director of the Center, Dr. Volmer (Isaacs), denies his request to see Pembroke. Told to come back later, Lockhart leaves to get a hotel and return. However, on the way there, a deer lunges into the road in front of his car, which goes crashing down the hill. Lockhart ends up with a broken leg and crutches, not waking up until three days later and finding he has been admitted as a patient to the wellness center. Nevertheless, he is still persistent in trying to get Pembroke on the plane back to the U.S.
Much happens to prevent this, including his being told by Dr. Volmer that he is not healthy and should be treated for all kinds of ailments, which gradually begin to appear. He continues his sleuthing, finds Pembroke, and convinces him to fly to the U.S. While the man is packing his bags, Lockhart meets mysterious Hannah (Goth), a young woman he had seen earlier standing on a ledge high up on the castle looking as if she will jump at any moment. The film enhances fear by showing extreme threat, then bringing the viewer down to reality.
A Cure for Wellness is good at keeping the viewer engaged in Lockhart’s investigation of the wellness center, how it keeps its residents there for so long (no one ever wants to leave), and the ultimate outcome for this bright, ambitious man and, eventually the whole story of Hannah. Unfortunately, it evolves into unbelievable theatrics toward the end that become so implausible the viewer disengages with the main characters and leaves the theater feeling exasperated. Moreover, an added concern is that the film is likely to increase unjustified suspicions toward research in medical settings, another exaggerated sub-plot.
If only filmmakers of horror movies could restrain themselves before entering the absurd.
Grade: C+ By Donna R. Copeland