Now that it is February, we have the potential to get some good films again. Split was a January fluke, I am sure everything else that I didn’t see is bad. But this is February!
Last February we were blessed with Hail, Caesar! And before that we got The Lego Movie! So there is a lot of hope for finding the special film in the crowd, and A Cure For Wellness is carrying that flag (along with John Wick: Chapter 2).
I first heard about this film in December when some of my critic friends saw it at Butt-numb-a-thon, but all of their lips were silent as to why they enjoyed it. A mysterious film with a lot of creepy moments. Let’s do it.
Water? Nothing has ever been creepy about water.
Mr. Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) is a young, spry, wall street worker who just got a promotion after closing a big account. And he is ambitious. And he has also cheated on some of his deals. This does not look good, especially when his company is on the verge of a big merger. So the board gives him a task. To head to the Swiss Alps, to a little spa, where their CEO (Adrian Schiller, maybe? God, I hope it was him), has decided to extend his vacation forever and never return home. He hats Wall Street now.
So Lockhart heads to the spa, hoping to convince him right away. But he misses visitor hours, gets distracted by a mysterious woman (Mia Goth), and next thing he knows his driver (Ivo Nandi) gets into a car accident. Lockhart wakes up in the spa, a cast over his leg, with a spa retreat seemingly forced on himself as well in order for him to heal.
While there, Lockhart spends most of his time looking for and failing to talk to his CEO. Trying to discover why the water seemingly is addictive here. And wrap it all up with ancient legends of the place! Fun!
Also starring Jason Isaacs, Celia Imrie, and Judith Hoersch.
Oh man, it is so beautiful it is making me flip my shit.
A Cure For Wellness is not your normal “scary film.” At its core it is a psychological thriller meant to make you feel unnerved throughout its over two hour run time. Every shot is beautiful, showing off the lush Swiss (Well, it was filmed in Germany) landscapes and mountainsides. Rooms uniform to make you feel claustrophobic. Uniformity in the actions of the patrons. Long hallways, identical doors, and a seemingly labyrinth of corridors, the spa is both haunting and beautiful.
The mystery it weaves is a central figure and one that will have you picking up the clues it drops, the smaller references along the way, to build the complete story. Why the spa does what it does, how it does it, and our overall plot is wonderfully crafted and told to make sure you get enough for the average viewer to understand it all.
But in the last 15-20 minutes, they decide that instead of keeping it a smart film, they will dumb everything down, hold the viewers hand and make sure repetitively everyone understands ever little aspect. And it is its biggest failing point. It went from an intelligent film to a tacked on ending that feels normal for Hollywood films but is jarring for this one. It told us too much and also made sure there was no mystery left. It had a conclusion, the story is over, and it could have had many better endings if they just tacked off parts. It reminds me of Don’t Breathe in that regard.
DeHaan and (actors) give great performances. They really dive into these characters and no one is half assing this film. It is a pretty darn good film that people should see if they want to feel unnerved and can handle some body damage horror stuff. I had some pretty extreme cringes during this film, but they are all done in a way that serves a purpose and isn’t just for gore sake.
They just need to know when to end it.
3 out of 4.