As I’m currently away on holiday, I haven’t watched a new film in the last week but didn’t want to stop the ball rolling when I’m just getting back into writing again. So with this review, I actually watched the film when it came out in the UK back in February, and wanted to write a quick few thoughts on this one as it has stuck in my memory – but not for the right reasons, instead as one of the most disappointing films I’ve seen so far this year.
I ummed and ahhed about whether to see this one at first, as it seemed like the trailer was potentially pitching this as a bit of horror – and as will be noted looking through the archives of this blog – Ben don’t do horror. I’m sorry but I’m a big wuss, and just won’t watch them – “A film so scary you won’t feel safe in your own home” and taglines to similar effect, sorry but I actually like to feel safe at home, count me out. Anyway – I digress. I ultimately (obviously as you’re reading this, hopefully!) decided I was going to give it a go as the storyline looked like it could edge slightly more into a psychological thriller, which is definitely up my street. After all, it looked a very similar premise to Shutter Island, which I really loved when it came out, so much so I saw it twice in cinemas. However, I’m sad to say the quality of A Cure for Wellness does not even come close by comparison.
The premise is a young employee on Wall Street is sent to retrieve a board member of his company from a wellness centre in the Swiss Alps, but when he arrives everything seems a bit odd and by an unfortunate and bizarre incident becomes a patient at the centre himself and is seemingly unable to leave, beginning to question his sanity. (See what I mean about Shutter Island similarities?).
The plot starts off seeming like it has some legs, but it never quite picked up the pace to fully get me on board. There were moments in there which got me on the hook but then didn’t deliver the punch to give me that “wow that was clever” moment you are dying for in a thriller. In fact, calling this a thriller is a bit of a stretch as it was in fact, far from thrilling. The story seemed clunky in places, with a lack of explanation on some points, simple giveaways that spoil the satisfaction of a “twist” and when it became obvious where the story was going (don’t worry – I’m not in the business of spoilers – keep reading…), I was left thinking “oh, that’s where we’re going, really?”.
The film wasn’t all bad. I thought Mia Goth played her role very well, and Jason Isaacs as the eerie Dr Volmer had his moments of walking the line between being trusted or not. I wasn’t keen on Dane DeHaan’s character of Lockhart, as although the lead in the movie I never warmed to him, and struggled to get behind him. I’m still not actually sure if that is intentional by the filmmakers or not? If you saw the movie let me know what your thoughts on the character were.
In fairness, the movie actually looked great – the production did a great job, the visual effects (for the most part) were very good, and some great locations were used to capture scenes in and around the wellness centre. By contrast, I seem to remember being not overly impressed with the use of music/sound in the film, which is a pretty important component in a psychological thriller. I may be doing it a disservice and misremembering, but as I don’t remember it being good, it probably wasn’t.
Running at just under 2 and half hours, this film more than outstayed it’s welcome. That said, making it 45 minutes shorter wouldn’t have improved it, but it would have meant I could’ve left earlier. Maintaining a sluggish pace for its entirety, it felt like a long 2 and half hours.
I had relatively high hopes going into this one, but instead of a cure for wellness, I was left needing a cure for disappointment.