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A Cure for Wellness: Style over substance

Gore Verbinski’s latest horror film is nice to look at, but lacks interest

Gore Verbinski’s latest film, A Cure For Wellness, falls into the trap of focusing so much energy on making the film look pretty, that it’s not interesting.

The film was written by Justin Haythe and stars Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs and Mia Goth. It is set in a surreal “wellness centre” located in the remote Swiss Alps. Lockhart (DeHaan), an ambitious Wall Street broker and the epitome of the movie banker cliché, must leave his busy life in New York to retrieve his company’s CEO from this secluded location after receiving a strange letter from him.

A Cure for Wellness sacrifices an interesting story to make an aesthetically pleasing film.

As one would imagine, there is something amiss in this hospital, as all the patients seem to be under the influence of a mind-controlling substance. As the plot advances, weird and sometimes downright ridiculous situations unfold as our protagonist looks for his business partner and, consequently, a reason to leave this unsettling place.

The main issue with this film is its lack of effective pacing and editing. The movie drags for 150 minutes and the audience can feel every second of its runtime. Nothing happens for several scenes, and the biggest scares come from the perpetual nudity of the senior patients. Suspense-building music is used in a very frustrating manner. One scene uses a 30-second musical build-up to reveal a lipstick, and I couldn’t help but chuckle at the sheer lack of competence from the film’s director.

Moreover, most of the film’s twists were revealed in its trailers, aside from one disturbing and unnecessary incestual subplot. There is little to no explanation for this awkward narrative device, which ends with the most unpleasant sex scene I’ve had to watch in recent memory. There is a feeling of hatred towards the viewer, and the director seems to be playing a sadistic game with his audience.

The only good aspect of the film is its artistic direction—the sets are interesting and showcase compelling visuals. Despite the loathing I have for this cinematic mess, I must recommend it for those who love poorly-executed and overly-pretentious vanity projects, as some scenes in this flick have to be experienced just for the sake of “it’s so bad it’s good” entertainment. I, on the other hand, prefer my viewing experience to be devoid of such sadomasochistic elements.

About Romina Florencia Arrieta