Friday, February 17, 2017
A Cure for Wellness
Accompanied by a mesmerizing melody (music by Benjamin Wallfisch) which repeats numerous times later in the film, the film opens with the death of a sales man. But oddly, that episode is insignificant at all to the rest of the film. Instead, the scene that follows, displaying a spectacular view of a train passing through the Swiss mountains, introduces the film's protagonist—a cocky twenty-something stockbroker executive Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) who is riding the train while cooking the books. When his misconduct is discovered by the Board, his only way to get out of the mess is to let the company's CEO Pembroke (Harry Groener) take the blame, as the Board proposes.
But Pembroke isn't in New York City. He has been in a mysterious "Wellness Center" located in a magnificent mountain-top castle in the Swiss Alps and has no desire to return to the "real world." Lockhart is sent over to retrieve Pembroke, but he isn't very successful in meeting Pembroke. Instead, he encounters the polite facility director Dr. Volmer (Jason Isaacs), a special patient Hannah (Mia Goth), and many other strangely-behaved but seemingly happy patients. Volmer claims that he uses water to treat these rich patients and once they arrive, they do not want to leave.
Of course, Lockhart doesn't believe anything Volmer tells him, so he goes on a thrilling mission to uncover the deep secrets inside this spooky place, while reluctantly he becomes a patient of the facility himself.
The film has a fantastic start by throwing you many questions. You will be instantly hooked by the seductive visual, the unsettling music score, the eccentric characters, and bizarre mysteries. However, the director Gore Verbinski doesn't seem to know how to solve the twisted puzzle he ambitiously sets up. The plot gets murkier as time goes by. The odd happenings become predictive recurrences. The stylish and picturesque visual loses its appeal, the enigmatic atmosphere gives way to horror film clichés, and the intense thrill evaporates. After more than two hours, hardly anything makes sense anymore and the water seems to go wasted instead of being used to cure something.
Part of the film's plot cannot shake off its resemblance to "Men & Chicken" (Mænd og Høns | Denmark 2015) but it lacks the quirky and comical spirit in its Danish superior. This film also shows no interest in being scientifically reasonable, although it never stops trying to add more intriguing ideas that it cannot handle itself.
It could have been a better film if it stops at the first half and let you wonder about the answers by using your own imagination, because what's in the second half is ridiculous and nonsensical. It becomes more interested in making a wedding commercial and showing off tortures involving water, plus some computer generated eel, which would have been scarier if they were water snakes.