A Cure for Wellness is a 2017 psychological horror film by Gore Verbinski set in a rehabilitation retreat perched up in the Swiss Alps. It stars Dane DeHaan (Chronicle, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, The Place Beyond the Pines) as Lockhart, a businessman tasked with retrieving the missing CEO of his company. The last trace of his employer leads him to the wellness spa in the mountains where he meets the peculiar Dr. Volmer, played by Jason Isaacs (The Patriot, Peter Pan). Immediately Lockhart is stonewalled by the doctor and his staff when he insists on seeing his lost boss. After an accident prolongs Lockhart’s stay at the spa he befriends an odd girl who has been there her entire life and becomes determined to crack through the retreat’s glossy veneer.
I came into this movie with a weird posture. At one point during its theatrical run I almost decided to go see it but ultimately chose to abstain. I wasn’t sure what I wanted from A Cure for Wellness. Hardly anyone was talking about it after its release so I figured I wasn’t missing much before. Upon the rental disc’s arrival my expectations were modest yet I was once again intrigued.
What I got from A Cure for Wellness was equal parts mystery, body horror, and visual beauty. The story had me instantly captivated, with help from the astonishing castle vistas, as I was driven to race with Lockhart to find out what sinister machinations lay behind the porcelain-tiled walls of the retreat (if any at all). The film was clearly influenced by a wide range of predecessors spanning from Shutter Island to Marvel superhero movies. I could definitely see it being based on a comic book/graphic novel.
Some might find it too “boring” (I have to admit the pacing was mismanaged at times), but this isn’t the typical modern day horror film. It is not filled with jump scares to instantly gratify the lazy viewer. Instead it rewards you with a strange and dark journey to the center of madness. A Cure for Wellness has mesmerizing and breathtaking shots as well as moments that make you squirm. It’s a shame it was a bust at the box office because you can tell a lot of care went into making this movie. It is surely a film to break you out of your usual mundane cycle, just don’t watch it if you have aquaphobia.
4 eel tanks out of 5