A Cure for Wellness
by Tony Medley
Runtime 146 minutes.
Not for children.
If you are not paying
strict attention, this starts out looking like animation because the
people playing the members of the board of the firm of stockbrokers all
look like cartoons. It’s hard to get your mind around the fact that
these are real people so cartoonish they are.
Directed by Gore
Verbinski, Lockhart (Dane DeHaan), an ambitious young broker, is sent by
these cartoonish board members to bring back the firm’s CEO, Pembroke
(Harry Froener), who is a “patient” at an Alpine spa (shot at
Hohenzollern Castle in the Swabian Alps in Southern Germany; the
interiors were shot at the derelict Beelitz-Heilstatten military
hospital outside Berlin). When he arrives he sees the myriad of elderly
people calmly walking around in white bathrobes playing croquet and
sitting at tables conversing with one another.
Turns out Pembroke
doesn’t want to come back, and Lockhart locks horns with the institute’s
charming director, Dr. Volmer (Jason Isaac, who gives a good
performance), and also the ethereal, mysterious young woman Hannah (Mia
Although intending to
stay for only a few hours, Lockhart eventually finds himself a patient
in the spa. As he wanders around looking for Pembroke and dealing with
Dr. Vollmer and Hannah, more and more odd and strange, indeed horrific,
incidents occur to him and those around him. The problem with the film
is that it is laughable in many of the scenes. As with most horror
films, some of the scenes are also graphically disgusting.
The cinematography is
pretty good, as are the special effects, most of which are of relatively
There are so many
things that are never explained that it would take a book to list them.
Just trust me that virtually every scene has something that is
completely out of context and/or inexplicable (considering all the
torture we’ve seen Lockhart endure), including the climax. Nothing about
this film makes sense, including the existence of the spa and the
purpose for everything that’s going on.
This is truly a genre
film, and if you don’t like the genre, you’re not going to like the
film. As an example, in my screening on the Fox lot it was announced
that there would be a camera crew in the vestibule as we left the
theater and they requested people stay to be interviewed that they could
use for promotion. People were rapidly exiting the theater and
disdaining the entreaties of the people trying to get their promotional
statements. I heard the filmmaker say to one of the critics behind me,
“Hey, you helped me out last week. How about giving me a statement
here?” I don’t know if the critic stayed because people were stampeding
out of the screening room; some, like me, heading for the commissary,
which is the best in Hollywood, so all was not lost.
Sitting through 146
minutes of this nonsense was enough to do in even the most hardy.