Director Gore Verbinski has never been one to shy away from delivering a unique visual experience in his work. From his early days directing Mouse Hunt and The Ring to his time captaining the later films in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise with his collaborative buddy Johnny Depp. The innovative director always created a spectacle on-screen, but lacked the substance that makes you care about what’s happening in the film (See The Lone Ranger or any of the later Pirates films). Verbinksi constantly paints himself into a corner creatively with his movies and can’t handle all the plot lines he’s generated to drive his stories. Is this issue present again in the director’s new film A Cure for Wellness starring Dane DeHann, Jason Isaacs and Mia Goth?
A Cure for Wellness is a physiological thriller about an up and coming executive named Mr. Lockhart (DeHann) who is given an assignment to bring back his company’s CEO who apparently had a mental breakdown and is recuperating at a mysterious wellness center in the Swiss Alps. Verbinski immediately takes advantage of the mountain backdrops creating a beautiful environment with a gothic castle doubling as a cult like health center that caters to older wealthy patients looking to cure what ails them even if there not sure what that may be. Upon arriving Lockhart knows something isn’t right and from there he gets caught up in the mystery which involves bizarre water treatments, eels and family secrets that are hiding something much sinister at the wellness center.
Even though at times you have no clue as to what is going on in A Cure for Wellness, Verbinski keeps your attention as Lockhart falls into madness in the Swiss Alps. Many plot lines are strung out through the film involving the treatment at the center, personal demons that haunt the players involved and the dark history of the castle itself. Verbinski takes full advantage of the R-Rating with some shocking scenes that will curl your toes as Dane DeHann’s corporate businessman is tortured psychologically and physically as he tries to accomplish the goal of bringing his boss back home.
When it comes to a visceral experience that will make your skin crawl at times, Gore Verbinski succeeds in A Cure for Wellness. The only problem is once again the director struggles with his content and unfortunately at the worst possible time. The third act is a complete mess that forgets to tie up any of the plot lines it laid our for the audience. Verbinski is the equivalent to a baserunner rounding third and falling flat on his face before he crosses the plate.
Leaving somethings up for interpretation is not a problem and it’s fun to make the audience think after the credits have rolled. A Cure for Wellness doesn’t explain anything leading up to its conclusion leaving the audience saying “Huh?”. If you’re going to have magic water and eels in your thriller, you need to make sure you explain this unusual element in your film for better or worse. If you don’t, it just comes across as weird and dumb. It’s a shame A Cure for Wellness completely falls to pieces in the finale, because Gore Verbinski created a creepy mood that had tremendous potential. It’s too bad the finished project leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth.
Overall, I give A Cure for Wellness 2.25 out of 4 stars.
Read all T.M.’s reviews here–>Entertainment Now with T.M. Powell