I have longed for originality in modern cinema. It is an appeal that many film critics and film fanatics have screamed at Hollywood for ever since we’ve had this wave of films feeling the same.
A Cure for Wellness attempts to be, well a cure for the appeal. Gore Verbinski, who brought us three of The Pirates of the Caribbean films has taken a step back from his usual collaboration with Johnny Depp and returns to bring us another horror film, he did this in 2002 when he directed the American remake of The Ring.
Firstly, I will say that A Cure for Wellness has a story shrouded in mystery and creates the focus of what is this cure that will have you hooked like bait to a fish and presses you to endure the films unusual style. On the surface the narrative will feel very simple, but as the story continues, different narrative layers occur that make the story ever more expansive that what was initially portrayed in the trailer.
Another element of narrative structure contained in A Cure for Wellness is its subtle but noticeable way of foreshadowing certain events. It won’t take a genius to look at certain points in the film and draw up connections to the story but the fact that we can draw up connection is why the narrative works so well. It is very easy to identify what is important to the story long and short term. It isn’t difficult to mix up foreshadowing and exposition, but A Cure for Wellness very clearly distinguishes what is what.
Two stand out performances were from Dane Dehaan and Jason Issacs. Lockhart (played by Dane Dehaan) is a character who is seen to put his job before his family as evident from his lack of a relationship with his mother. He is sent to a facility to find the CEO of the company he works for and bring him back. A similar setup scenario we’ve seen a hundred times but as previously stated become more expansive. Jason Issacs, who is incredibly talented when playing manipulative characters plays Volmer, a doctor as the treatment facility where Lockhart is sent. Dane delivers just the right amount of curiousness needed for a scene when he is trying to uncover the darkness that surrounds the treatment facility and Jason Issacs has a superb heavy presence in every scene he is in. There’s something about his movement and voice that makes him stand out from the rest of the characters in the film.
Why would you want to leave is a question that is asked many times in the film. There is truth behind this because the location of the treatment facility is incredibly stunning, especially in exterior scenes. The Swiss Alps adds to the heaven on earth vibe that the facility is wanting to offer and is quite therapeutic after going through one of the films tenser scenes. The film on a whole is very gorgeous looking and is very well pieced together through editing.
For a film that looks very different from what you may usually see, it feels so familiar to other psychological thrillers such as The Shining and Shutter Island, the film even seems to borrow from said films. This is something that can determine you walking out of the cinema or just feeling bored in general and while the film can make up its mind of narrative elements, it has difficulty in defining itself as an experimental film or a product from Hollywood.
This brings me on to the tone where once again, the film is indecisive. Half the time it wants us to feel very on the edge of our seats which I credit Gore Verbinski for creating. The problem is psychological suspense should take you to the maximum level of tension and leave you hanging there for the remainder of the films run time, however A Cure for Wellness takes you the maximum level but can’t sustain itself and drops rapidly once the suspenseful scene is over, this is a big disappointment and whatever tension was created is lost in the blink of an eye.
The secrets that this film holds from you are secrets that won’t be discovered until the finale of the film. While many films solve different mysteries as the film continues, Gore Verbinski and the writing staff decide to unleash every last ounce of secrecy all at once. For some this will be very sloppy but for others it won’t concern them because they are too involved with the story. Many critics have branded the final moments of the film as a turn for the worst and slaps you in the face for thinking the film was going to go somewhere else but this didn’t bother me because everything was already covered by the foreshadowing and it sustained the suspenseful tone.
This is going to be one of the more divisive films of 2017 and is all down to whether you think this film suits your taste. All I can say is that the film is original in its beauty. The beauty of the bizarre is a very real thing and I could feel it seeping through the silver screen. However, is when you start to notice the familiar that will drag the films lasting impression on you.
Final Result: 7/10 – Good
Have you seen A Cure for Wellness? What did you think? Please let me know your thought and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: Logan