Saturday, June 10, 2017

[Review] A Cure for Wellness

This film is wet. Very wet.

Gore Verbinski is the director of A Cure for Wellness, an off-kilter institution thriller and psychological horror that is flooded with style.

Dane DeHaan plays Lockhart, a fast-rising financial executive who's sent on an assignment to retrieve his company's CEO from a remote fortress in the Swiss Alps that specializes in advanced hydrotherapy to treat various ailments...Or at least that's what they want you to think. After catching some strange vibes, Lockhart suddenly finds himself as a patient there and is unable to check out.

Its smothering story definitely intrigues, as Lockhart drowns deeper and deeper into insanity. Conceptually, the film comes off as a dead-serious blend between Shutter Island and Get Out (without the racial themes). But despite its isolated high-concept, the film still has a lot of real-world topics on its mind, bringing up social critiques on the twisted aspect of the American Dream, toxic superiority, warped medical experiments, purification methods and cleanses, and there's even some class commentary. But the narrative never really *ahem* capitalizes on these ideas and only skims the surface. In turn, the film feels bloated with its 140-minute runtime, especially considering the couple of detours that don't quite mesh. I didn't find it to be slow-moving though, just overstuffed.

What the film really has going for it is its relentlessly peculiar (and creepy) atmosphere, from the eerie hum of the music to the ominous mystique of the settings--the pools, the preservation tanks, the steam baths, the sensory deprivation chambers. It's all significantly well-shot, capturing the intricate production design and the consistently provocative imagery with pristine framing. The film spouts some striking visual motifs, from vivid reflections--to human anatomy--to freakin' eels.

So even considering the missteps, I found A Cure for Wellness to be an engrossing experience, mainly because of its overall commitment to weirdness and its steam-goth aesthetics. Now I need a towel.

( 7/10 )

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