Gore Verbinski's latest foray into the horror genre is A Cure for Wellness, starring Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, and Mia Goth. I went into this film completely blind. The only thing I had seen was the poster, which simply features a blue bottle with a small woman floating inside. Pretty weird, but not half as weird as this movie.
DeHaan stars as a stereotypical hard-working executive known only as Lockhart. Things at his firm aren't going so well, so he is sent to retrieve the company's CEO from some sort of wellness spa in the Swiss Alps so he can sign some documents. Or something like that. I really don't know, business lingo kind of bores me. But luckily, all of that is over in the first five minutes and we are immediately swept off to the scenic Alps. The cinematography really is spectacular.
On the way to the wellness spa, which used to be a castle, Lockhart's driver tells him of the spa's sordid past, involving a baron, his sister, and angry village people. Apparently, the castle is built on some aquifer which is why the spa is so special, and why its past is so troubled. When Lockhart arrives at the spa, he speaks with a glassy-eyed nurse who can't seem to give him a straight answer as to where his missing CEO is. And thus begins the nightmare.
I tried really hard to like this movie, I really did. I enjoy a good psychological thriller. But this was a mess. When the plot wasn't using every cliche in the book, it was throwing out all kinds of scare tactics in a jumbled mess. I'm talking a creepy hospital, brainwashing, drowning and other water-related horrors, incest, emaciated elderly folks, sinister dental work, and supernatural eels. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, eels. There are eels coming out of the toilets, literally. And that's just the beginning.
The idea of a creepy spa in an ancient castle built on an aquifer sounds really cool, right? But this movie missed the mark completely. It tried to do too much and all the cool elements got watered down, no pun intended. And frankly, without all the bizarre scare tactics, the plot was a little predictable. I kept waiting for some sort of twist, but it never came. The writers revealed their cards way too early in the film, and while there were a few surprises, it was really easy to call what was going to happen. Extreme horror fans might really enjoy this film, but I wasn’t drinking the kool-aid. Or in this case, water.