A Cure for Wellness

A well for the curious

I hate hospitals. I have nothing against them in theory; they are places where people of generally high moral integrity work to make sick people well.  I just hate them all the same. And I wonder if there’s some yet unearthed trauma in my past that has brought me to this antipathy, or if it’s just films like A Cure for Wellness, where the facility in question is less a sanitarium and more an elaborate spider web.

Dane DeHaan has now aged enough to put the “emaciated wraith” routine behind him; I’m not sure that makes him hero material yet, but it’s a start. And he’s well cast as the, let’s just say, moral independent sent to something that sounds like a Swiss day spa by his superiors. Lockhart (DeHaan) has cheated to push a lucrative deal through his firm, and though this makes him a playah, the firm’s curiously small board insists he must collect the fall guy for the coup to earn his reward. The man Lockhart has to fetch, Pembroke (Harry Groener) went to Switzerland and never returned. If you think it’s kinda messed up that Lockhart is going there to wrest Pembroke from a clearly preferable situation only to return to a figurative NYC firing squad, you’re not alone.

Upon visiting the mountain-top remote, steel-gated, white-robed community, however, Lockhart finds nothing about his task will be easy. His 3:05 arrival for a 3:00 visiting hour curfew is met with the same disapproval as when you miss the McDonald’s breakfast window. At Lockhart’s insistence, he’s taken to the director of the institution, Volmer (Jason Isaacs). It’s good to see Malfoy Senior has gotten out of Voldemort’s shadow, but that doesn’t mean DeHaarry is in less trouble. Holy crap! Did Malfoy just slip him a tapeworm roofie? Whatever you do, don’t drink the water …what an odd thing to say about Switzerland.

As if on cue, Lockhart’s ride back to civilization crashes, and he’s stuck with a full leg cast at the sanitarium where there is no shortage of secrets, everyone is just a little off, and nobody ever leaves. But aside from that, it’s all good. He, check out his new weird Swiss Miss, Hannah (Mia Goth).

A Cure for Wellness had the opportunity to be a Mia Gothic classic – well, perhaps not a gothic classic, but a classic horror/thriller nonetheless. This is one of those films where every five minutes there’s a new discovery to help unravel the mystery, and every snippet is worse than the last. At times, you really want to scream, “GET OUT!! Just freaking leave! Forget about Pembroke. Forget about Hannah. Forget about your job or New York or whatever else motivates you. You have to leave this place and never return.” Unfortunately, the screenplay which so nicely described a chamber of horrors beneath a welcome exterior, fellCureWellness2 apart at exactly the wrong time. A Cure for Wellness has at least two endings and the first is superior, which means that you might just be wasting your time for the last half-hour. This is not something you need to hear with regards to a one-hundred and forty-six minute long movie.

Conclusion notwithstanding, however, I’m quite surprised this film didn’t make a bigger splash – given our present political climate, one would imagine a giant conspiracy film would flourish and take root … perhaps we don’t appreciate tangible, provable conspiracies; we only like the ones that exist in our minds. Or maybe the thought of *gasp* middle aged nudity *gasp* felt too troubling for the recommendation.

♪My firm never understood what it is to have run away
When their number one punk goes rogue on a Switzerland holiday
Pembroke got real sick so quick – in his head or maybe a gland?
I was the one who made good in the shade, so they sent me to that Alpy land

Don’t drink the water
Cause that shit has got some disorder
Foul, foul water
Ignore the water
I ain’t no martyr♫

Rated R, 146 Minutes
D: Gore Verbinski
W: Justin Haythe
Genre: Get out! Get out! Get OUT!
Type of person most likely to enjoy this film: Conspiracy theorists
Type of person least likely to enjoy this film: Honest sanitarium staff

♪ Parody inspired by “Gimme Some Water”

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