Wednesday, March 1, 2017


Rated: R

STARS: Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, Mia Goth
DIRECTOR: Gore Verbinski
GENRE: Horror/Thriller

If I had checked beforehand to see that The Cure For Wellness was two and a half hours long, I never would have agreed to see it in the first place. But on the strength of Jill having a thing for the lead actor, I said what the hell. I have since realized that I need to be WAY more discriminating in my film choices!!!

Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) is a young finance director for a blatantly greedy corporate entity who travels to a mysterious rehab facility in the Swiss alps to retrieve the company's CEO, who seems to have gotten hung up there and doesn't want to come back. He has some difficulty locating the head honcho within the facility, and before you know it, Lockhart, in classic horror/thriller fashion, finds himself an unwitting patient instead of a visitor. What's keeping him there is whatever is in the water that everyone is encouraged to partake of profusely. Stupid horror flick mistake number one: When you go to another country, don't drink the water!

There's a backstory about the "wellness center" being built on the ruins of a castle that was inhabited by a baron who wanted an heir of pure blood, so he gets it on with his sister. The villagers learn of this debauchery and come with their torches ablaze--the villagers are always carrying torches in every B movie since Frankenstein--and burn the place down. This all has much relevance to the current bizarro director of the spa, Dr. Heinrich Volmer (Jason Isaacs), and off we go into one of those so-and-so-is-the-reincarnation-of so-and-so things and it's not very original but may appeal to those who love that time weathered plot.

Lockhart meets a strange teenage girl with haunted eyes named Hannah (Mia Goth) who is also "taking the cure," but in fact has been held there, apparently, for all of her days. (Mia Goth is a 23 year-old actress playing a girl of fifteen or so, and she passes believably for that age. She and Jesse Eisenberg should get together and they could play Hansel and Gretel in some film and both of them would just totally look the part.)

So on we go, cuz there's a lot of time to fill, and in time-worn fashion we will find out if Lockhart can extricate himself and the man he came to find from all the weirdness that is going on at the facility--facing roadblocks at every turn, of course. And will he and Hannah ride off into the sunset together--or in this case go drink beer in some pub at the foot of the mountain.

It's not as interesting or as thrilling as I'm making it sound. A good horror flick makes you jump when you least expect it. And it's oooooh scary.  A Cure For Wellness isn't scary. It's just creepy. Really creepy. It pulls out all the stops to bring you cringe-worthy realism depicting heinous and gory cruelty to humans and animals alike. What's the point?  There is no point to this movie, other than to titillate in the cheapest kind of way.  Style over substance. But I'll give them points for style. In fact during the last half hour, I was contemplating giving the film an F, and then I softened some because it's such a totally demented romp that you have to laugh and shake your head and give them credit for doing what they obviously set out to do. The only thing missing is Vincent Price and his blood-curdling laugh from Michael Jackson's "Thriller."    

Grade:  D


Recently, Tim pointed out to me that several of my reviews say essentially the same thing.  That I'm confused, confounded and don't really "get" what the film is about. Since consistency is something I seriously value, A Cure For Wellness also left me bewildered, bothered but definitely NOT bewitched. It did, however, deliver some scary moments. And as long-running as the movie was, I didn't get bored. Or sleepy.

They pulled out all the stops. Including our handsome hero dashing up and down stairs on crutches due to a broken leg, trying to escape his captors. (I bet Dane DeHaan had to practice that routine a lot!) If you, as a viewer, are the least bit squeamish about watching a graphic sex scene between father and daughter—mind you they are over 200 years old but have somehow managed to stay young-looking—I urge you to pass on this film. (Maybe a better title would have been "Kinkiness From The Crypt"?)

But I do have a thing for the lead actor. Ever since I saw him playing James Dean in the 2015 movie Life. He hooked me even further when I came across him again in the HBO series "In Treatment." But an actor doesn't necessarily make a movie worth seeing...(And as I watched Tim squirm uncomfortably in his seat, convinced that he was about to walk out of the theater, I felt a bit sheepish for talking him into this pseudo scare fest.)

I did love Benjamin Wallfisch's creepy score, though. It added immensely to the tensions of each off-the-wall moment. And let's face, if you want to escape reality, logic and clean living, this movie will do the trick.

Grade: C