A Cure for Wellness is an uneven horror film that had some interesting ideas, lots of problems with pacing and an ending that completely went off the rails.
There is absolutely a ton of disturbing imagery throughout the run time of A Cure for Wellness and this can be credited to the director Gore Verbinski and his inventiveness. Unfortunately, it seemed that the film’s other problems really overtook the positives.
A young executive named Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) is sent to the Swiss Alps to a “wellness center” to retrieve the company CEO Pembroke (Harry Groener) because there is a major problem with the company that only Pembroke could solve. Once there though, Lockhart discovered some problems. When he tried to leave, the car got into a terrible crash and Lockhart had to stay in the center to heal.
As he was there, he became engulfed in the mystery of what was going on at the center and why these older people seemed to be brainwashed, but waiting for a “cure.” I never knew what the cure was for, but I don’t think we were meant to know.
Dr. Heinrich Volmer (Jason Isaacs) insisted that Lockhart stay until he his healed and claimed to have called the company and let them know about the accident. There is a younger woman named Hannah (Mia Goth) who appeared to be “special.”
The film started slowly, with a definite slow burn. The early pacing of the movie was a drawback and much of the early part could have been edited down to bring the film’s massive run time (146 minutes) under control. There is no way around it. A Cure For Wellness was just too long. I found myself bored and dozing off during the first act of this movie.
Then, it seemed to catch its stride as the film focused on the central mystery of what was going on at this wellness center. This was where the film recaptured my attention and even piqued my interest on what was going on.
Unfortunately, then the film showed me what was going on.
The third act of A Cure for Wellness is a complete mess, filled with ridiculous situations and laughable B-movie tropes. Dr. Volmer turned from a mysterious enigma to a mustached-twirling villain whose motives were truly unbelievable.
Dane DeHaan commits to this role fully and shows some chops as the confused and put upon Lockhart, an Energizer Bunny-like character who kept going despite constant pain and anguish. It was difficult to understand why Lockhart was so determined to find his boss in this hell hole and his motivation was constantly switching. Still, DeHaan showed skill making me care about this character.
There is a place for a horror film set in this backdrop, but A Cure for Wellness loses its focus and drives off the road too often. There are certainly some horrifying elements here, but there are so many other failures of the film that it swamps those down among the excesses.