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A Cure for Wellness (2/10)

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 Goth).

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 repulsive scenes.

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.