A Cure for Wellness (2016)

I must have read positive reviews about A Cure for Wellness if I decided to add it on my watchlist. I can't remember though as I kept putting it off forever because of its length, two and a half hours. I mean, who's got time and willpower to watch such a long horror? I'm talking to non-horror lovers like myself. Anyway, I finally check it out and damn, it was good. 

The film follows Mr. Lockhart (Dane DeHaan), a young and ambitious financial executive from New York who is sent to a mysterious wellness center in the Swiss Alps to retrieve his company's CEO, Roland Pembroke (Harry Groener), whose signature is necessary to complete a merger. It is supposed to be a very easy task but soon Lockhart begins to question the true nature of the center and finds himself trapped at the wellness center as well. 

In terms of plotting, A Cure for Wellness is by no means perfect. It's not that original --rape and incest are quite common in the gothic horror genre--, there's a lot going on --simply too many storylines--, the pace is slow, it's a little confusing and there are many plot holes. Also, although they did try, there's no real twist here and the ending is a bit of a letdown --they should have left those last 20 minutes in the cutting room. That said, it's captivating, intriguing, so much so that I found myself transported into it, on the edge of my seat and glued to the screen from start to finish. 

There isn't much new with the characters either. The main character, Lockhart, is the morally corrupt financial executive whose family is his job that we have seen many times before. He is an icy, cocky and unlikable protagonist and yet he makes such a compelling protagonist. The credits entirely go to Dane DeHaan for it --and to the people who cast him because clearly, he is the perfect fit to play the character thanks to his constantly exhausted-looking face. Anyway, DeHaan, who has to carry the whole film on his shoulders, gives one of the best, if not the best performance of his career as he credibly expresses all the emotional and physical traumas his character is going and has gone through.

20th Century Fox

The supporting characters are quite interesting and intriguing as they are very odd and creepy and the cast does a good job. Jason Isaacs gives a mesmerizing performance as Dr. Volmer, the reasonable, mad(?) scientist who may or may not be conducting experiments on humans; Mia Goth gives a solid performance as Hannah, the mysterious teen patient who starts as a romantic interest but ends up being very relevant to the story.

The most striking aspect of A Cure for Wellness though is the visuals. The dreamlike cinematography is breathtaking, specifically as we see Manhattan's cityscape and follow Lockhart's through the Swiss Alps, but also while it captures the claustrophobic and dark sanitarium. Also impressive is Verbinski's ability in creating a grim and macabre atmosphere and the tension needed to keep the viewer glued to the screen.

Ultimately, A Cure for Wellness isn't very easy to watch, partially because of the slow pacing and long running time, partially because of the subject it deals with, but it makes for quite an exciting and thrilling experience.


  1. With you all the way on this one! I avoided it for ages because of the length so eventually saw it when we had some friends over and I knew the time wouldn't drag. It's got a lot of issues but it's still a cracking movie :)

  2. I'm glad you liked this far more than I did. lol

  3. I thought it was a damn good movie. It had some creepy moments but it also had some nice visuals. Plus, it looked the kind of film Roman Polanski would make if he is given a chance to return to Hollywood but that will never happen and he doesn't need Hollywood.

  4. This one didn't quite work for me. It had a lot of positive elements, they just didn't work together as well as they should. It definitely holds your attention and there's something (a lot) to be said for that.

  5. I have heard of this film but not much and am still on the fence to see it.

  6. Oh I just loathed DeHaan - he is fine playing this character but he shouldn't be a main character he has no charisma to carry the movie. The visuals are fantastic though it's a shame Verbinski doesn't make movies more often

    1. I'm biased here as I love DeHaan. As for Verbinski, yes, he should make movies more often.