For the majority of Gore Verbinski’s career I feel like I’ve been the only one really trying to give the guy a break, I don’t think he’s as bad as people keep making out, even after years of pondering I still can’t quite figure out why everyone has such a problem with the second and third entries in the Pirates Of The Caribbean series, I’ve read every review, listened to every rant and I still don’t get it, Mouse Hunt may be stupid but that doesn’t change the fact that I still find it hilarious to the point of gut rupture and was The Lone Ranger really that bad? I’m sorry but I don’t think the words “worst film ever” are all that appropriate for a film that ends the way The Lone Ranger does, I mean that train scene was great.
So yeah, I like his not-so-popular stuff, kinda doubles the sadness factor for me a bit since I found A Cure For Wellness to be a rather dull and surprisingly ordinary affair that failed to justify its 18 rating, its length or even its entire existence. It’s not a terrible film, I hesitate to even call it a bad one; I just found it really disappointing and forgettable. The story follows a young business executive played by Dane Dehaan who is pretty much blackmailed by his superiors into taking a trip to the Swiss Alps, there he must retrieve the company’s CEO who was supposed to be away on a spa vacation for only a few weeks but appears to have lost his mind and refuses to return, so this young man arrives at the peculiar “wellness centre”, where the guest couldn’t be happier and the staff couldn’t be stranger, not realising that very dark times lie ahead as he learns more and more about the centre’s mysterious past and finds himself unable to leave.
Lot’s of people have been referring to this film as disgusting, weird, creepy, strange and different, even the negatives reviews appeared to be promising a film I would enjoy, but no, I didn’t think it was any of those words just listed. First of all, how on Earth did this get an 18 certificate, did the BBFC believe the suggestion of violence or disturbing content was enough to justify it? I don’t think so, there is some suggestive material and some blood but I’ve seen 12A’s with more gore than this. OK I’ve had my rant about that, now for the more important stuff. The story feels like it has been designed to highlight the set pieces and anything concerning plot or character is just filler to connect the dots, to stitch it all together, it’s a shame because on their own, these set pieces are not poorly made, they’re well acted, shot with personality and the whole thing contains some very creative camera angles but because of how the film is plotted out they come across as dull.
The first ten minutes are rather uncomfortable, there’s a lot of cutting back and forth to the past and the present that probably made sense to the filmmakers as they were planning how it should open but I disliked how choppy it felt, I’m especially shocked to say that the CGI wasn’t even that good, for a Gore Verbinski movie that’s a slap in the face, I mean I’m sure there’s CGI I didn’t notice, like maybe it was used to improve some of the backgrounds and landscapes but there’s a car crash involving an animal that did not look good at all. Normally when a film has a choppy narrative, people like to put it down to style over substance, so does A Cure For Wellness have a nice style? Well… yes and no, it would have had a nice style if the really fussy editing didn’t prevent it from coming to fruition, this may sound nit picky but during some dialogue scenes the camera feels like it’s cutting around for no other reason than to include as much of the footage they shot as possible, which is what a lot of film students do.
So is this a bad film, no, I wouldn’t say that, but I also wouldn’t say it’s weird or different like everyone has been saying, I found it really unspectacular and not unusual in any way, the acting is perfectly fine, I like the imaginative camera angles and the set design is absolutely grand and deserves much praise, but there’s too much exposition, horrifying scenes come of as silly or comical, whether or not they were meant to be I have no idea, the story feels like it’s wandering aimlessly until a set piece comes along to make a big thing of but when they happen they’re really not that interesting, the third act is extremely repetitive and that CGI animal was rather embarrassing if I’m honest. I would recommend it be seen though, it’s ambitious and there is a spark of brilliance to be found, it’s a splitter, the kind of film you’ll either like or dislike, I know some people who did like it and heard several testimonies from those who did not.
That’s why I feel the need to give it 5 stars instead of 4, because maybe some of the things I disliked are my fault rather than the film’s, I really wanted to like this but it did too many things to turn me off, I must say it’s been a long time since I was on the negative side of a polarising film, this doesn’t feel right in the slightest.