Movie: A Cure for Wellness
Director: Gore Verbinski
Starring: Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, Mia Goth
A Cure for Wellness is a science-fiction thriller that feels predictable at the start, but turns into a surprising and traumatic viewing experience. The film succeeds on many levels, especially its striking cinematography, yet suffers from lacklustre acting.
Following a young business man, Lockhart (DeHaan) is forced to go to a wellness spa in the Swiss Alps to bring his coworker back to New York. Though he only planned to be there for one day, the spa’s main doctor, Volmer (Isaacs), convinces him that he isn’t well and that he must stay to receive the mysterious cure. While there, he also forms a bond with one of the younger patients, Hannah (Goth), who has lived there her whole life.
One of the film’s highlights is its mystery. The film leads you through a maze of very strange and supernatural events, leaving the viewer intrigued and questioning. What really happens at this spa? Is Lockhart sane or not?
Volmer informs Lockhart of his previously unknown illness and insists on his poor health. Who is telling the truth is left up to the viewer in order to engage them further.
Above all, the film’s beautiful cinematography and realistic visual effects are what will make you think about it for days. There’s a prominent visual difference in atmosphere and appearance from Lockhart’s workplace in New York and the Spa. The workplace scenes are very dark and have cooler tones to emphasize the lifelessness. The spa scenes are much brighter and colourful, especially the greenness of the grass — a stark contrast between realities.
The film’s nightmarish soundtrack is overwhelming and will make your heart pound. In one scene, slow and eerie beating sounds play while Lockhart is shown walking slowly through a hallway at the spa. As he continues to walk into a restricted area, the music suddenly escalates and a louder, more intense sound takes over. Overall, the spooky music successfully helps build suspense, mystery and even terror to the film.
Despite these highlights, DeHaan's acting is rather ordinary and lacks energy. For example, when Volmer drills into Lockhart's front tooth without anesthetic, DeHaan only goes to the effort of grunting to express the incredible pain his characterwas suposedly experiencing. Throughout the film, DeHaan is emotionless, as if he doesn't care about what is happening in his surroundings, and greatly disrupts the viewing of the film as a result.
Although A Cure for Wellness doesn’t have the best acting, the film score is a definitive strength. As well, colour intensity and atmosphere alone makes the film worth seeing on the big screen, sure to please horror and thriller buffs alike.