A Cure for Wellness
Late one night at a large financial firm in New York one of the employees, Morris, suffers a heart attack and dies, which turns out to be good news for the young executive Lockhart (Dane DeHaan), who takes his place on the board. At a board meeting, the other board members nominate Lockhart to retrieve the company’s CEO, Roland Pembroke (Harry Groener), from a “wellness center” in the Swiss Alps. Pembroke sent a troubling letter that implies he’s not coming back, and the board needs his signature to sign off on their merger with another company or else they all might be out of jobs. So Lockhart is on a bullet train to the Alps and has a driver take him through the small town up to the wellness center that sits atop a hill over the ruins of a castle. By the time Lockhart reaches the retreat he finds visiting hours are over, but he remains defiant because he’s Mr. Wallstreet Executive. Finally he is able to meet with Dr. Heinreich Volmer (Jason Isaacs) who drinks from a blue vial, but still no Pembroke. Lockhart returns to the car to head to the hotel in the town, but on the way down they get into a car accident. Lockhart wakes up three days later with a broken leg, now a patient in the spa. While he explores around he interacts with a few of the rich but old guests who all chug the spa’s rejuvenating water, learns about the spa’s history (the castle that used to be in its place was burned down two hundred years ago by the villagers who were angry at the experiments the baron was performing on them), meets a young woman Hannah (Mia Goth) who acts younger than she is, and ultimately discovers some of the current experiments going on. Will he figure out what’s going on, find Pembroke and save his job?
A Cure for Wellness is a long (two and a half hours), slow build that has a weak payoff that ultimately makes no sense. While the film is shot in beautiful locations, features top-notch production design and stunning cinematography, all the visuals don’t matter when the story is so weak. There’s not enough suspense, creepiness or horror to hold your attention in the long spans of Lockhart stuck at the wellness center. The twists are so small, but the movie plays them like they’re the biggest thing ever, further testing your patience. And the ultimate reveal feels like it was stolen from another movie and makes less and less sense the more you think about it — like it doesn’t make sense why Volmer would allow Lockhart to wander around the premises unsupervised, especially after he takes Hannah to the village. As much as Hollywood is head over heels for DeHaan, he’s not talented enough to carry an entire movie like this on his own, even when the story isn’t giving him any favors. Pretty much an all-around disappointment, there’s not much to recommend in favor of A Cure for Wellness other than the visuals, but you can catch the gist of those in the trailer; you’re better off forgetting this one.