Gore Verbinski’s A Cure For Wellness is excellent, in a weird, weird kind of way. My favorite thing about it was that it offers a subtler form of horror than what I’ve grown used to. I’ve seen a lot of slasher flicks in the past few years, and over time it’s not hard to develop an immunity to blood n’ guts scare tactics; Verbinski obviously realizes that a slow burn with the right atmosphere can be enough to freak out even the most jaded moviegoers.
For example: The opening shot of the film takes you on a nighttime trip through New York City, at an altitude that excluded cars, pedestrians, and any other signs of life. With the noise of the city cut out and the frame devoid of life, the city seems empty and dead. They follow it up with a scene where a man has a heart attack, alone in his office. After that setup, you already feel a bit isolated, a bit creeped out, and the story hasn’t even started yet.
A Cure For Wellness has some pretty disturbing scenes, but most of the actual horror comes from the soundtrack and the general atmosphere. Along with impressive visuals and lighting, A Cure For Wellness has the perfect score. Imagine being in a bathtub and then hearing someone pounding repeatedly on the side. That’s the feeling I got as I listened. (Thinking back, it worked very well with the movie’s general theme; ACFW is very heavy on the water symbolism)
Plotwise, this film had a protagonist you could root for, despite his flaws. You really start to wonder if this ordeal will leave Lockhart a better person than before, or a much, much worse one. He becomes a bit of a wild card as he cracks, making his story that much more interesting to follow. Props to Dane DeHaan for a great performance. And to the writers, while I’m doing this, for crafting a plot that keeps the viewer just confused enough to follow. They release key bits of info slowly as the story goes on, before really bringing down the chandelier at the end.
My only real problem with this movie is that it was like Lord of the Rings. This on its own wouldn’t be a bad thing at all, but what I mean is, it was like my least favorite part of Lord of the Rings. The movie was two hours and twenty-six minutes long, and in that time it had at least three different endings. The movie could have finished at any of those points, and I wouldn’t have questioned it. The true conclusion, although revealing valuable pieces of information and satisfying my questions overall, really rendered the movie more funny than scary. It all just became so ridiculous that every scrap of realism went down the drain (see what I did there).
I get the feeling that A Cure For Wellness is going to be one of those movies that’ll gain a weird but dedicated cult following once it has a few decades under its belt. It’ll be a really odd thing to see my grandchildren posting about how nostalgic it is on their movie blogs.