Ever since the preview for “A Cure for Wellness” dropped a few months back in 2016, I’ve had this movie marked on my calendar, hotly anticipating what it had to offer. That is, until I saw the horrible reviews it started receiving the week before its release. I’m no stranger to being fooled by an amazing preview (Man of Steel, Suicide Squad, Spectre etc.) but judging by the sleek production design and the eerie atmosphere in the trailer, I would have been willing to bet that this would be a stand out in 2017’s horror genre.Regardless of the reviews but with decisively lower expectations, I decided to see it anyway.
After a young businessman (Dane Dehaan) is sent to retrieve a colleague from a “wellness center” in the Swiss Alps, he soon learns that the center has many hidden secrets, and that leaving it may not be possible.
To my surprise, I really liked this movie, it’s by no means a masterpiece and it has some problems that I’ll get into, but for the most part, “A Cure for Wellness” has a lot going for it. For starters,this movie looks incredible. You can’t go wrong with the Swiss Alps for background scenery, but even inside and around the wellness center, Gore Verbinski uses very unique camera angles and a muted color pallet to great effect. Even the sound design creates a creepy atmosphere as you follow the characters in their solving of the mystery. Dane Dehaan does a great job in the lead, the script calls for him to do a ton of intense scenes as he begins to descend into madness and he delivers every time. The supporting cast also does very well with the strange material they’re given, with Jason Isaacs as the antagonizing doctor and Mia Goth as a disturbed patient.
But where the movie falls short and where the critics placed most of their focus, is in the pace of the movie and its obviousness of the movies that influenced it. Yes, the pace of the movie is really slow, and with a run time of close to 2 1/2 hours, it’s understandable to see how it overstayed its welcome with so many people. For me, though, the pace didn’t bother me, I was locked in the whole time and really enjoyed the reveals, even if they became ludicrous by the end. But I will agree that “A Cure for Wellness” isn’t shy about what influenced it. With reviewers calling out what it takes from “The Shining”, “Shutter Island”, “Marathon Man”, and several others, a lot of people are questioning its originality. Even though I do think it has a lot of weird, original content in it, I will agree that it has an insane amount of Shutter Island running through it, to the point that I was convinced that it would even have the same twist ending. Luckily, it takes its own path in the third act, what they offered was completely insane and I enjoyed where the story went.
Overall, I think this is a really good horror movie. It’s incredibly well shot and has a great atmosphere that is eerily immersive. It’s super weird and has a long run time, so it’s easy to see why it can be so off-putting to people, but I like that it took the chance to be so strange and have such a limited appeal. So, even with its flaws, I say if you’re a fan of horror movies like these, “A Cure for Wellness” is worth checking out.