A Cure For Wellness is an achievement in one way, at least: made on a budget of $40 million, it’s genuinely remarkable to see a film with such a notable lack of mainstream commercial appeal being made on such a grand scale in 2017. Unfortunately, the commendations pretty much end there, because beyond director Gore Verbinski’s undeniable eye for a shot, there isn’t too much of note going on here.
Lockart (Chronicle and Kill Your Darlings‘ Dane DeHaan) is an up-and-coming executive at a financial services company. They are on the verge of finalising a big-money business arrangement, and to seal the deal they need the signature of their head honcho, Roland Pembroke (Harry Groener). The catch? Pembroke is holed up in an enigmatic physical and mental rehabilitation centre in The Swiss Alps. Lockart is despatched to retrieve him, but is in a car crash towards the end of his journey. Suddenly holed up in the centre as a patient while he recovers, he begins to wonder exactly what it is about the centre that seems so strange.
A Cure For Wellness stays intriguing enough for its first two acts. Yes, it’s shoddily paced, and there are moments in here that don’t stand a chance of measuring up to closer examination, but there’s a certain amount of fun to be had – initially, at least – with watching Lockhart try to piece together the mysteries of the centre. However, the precariously-stacked plot strands do collapse eventually, and the film’s more forgivable transgressions turn to real problems as the film feels both increasingly over-long and progressively, mountingly preposterous.
With an ending that starts off uncomfortable, moves to silly, then ultimately graduates to utterly nonsensical, A Cure For Wellness‘ scant pleasures feel like a distant memory by the time the film has lumbered to its exhausting 150-minute runtime. Riddled with inconsistencies and outstaying it’s welcome to a punishing degree, it’s a film with nobly offbeat intentions that ends up feeling simultaneously shallow and bloated.