While watching a movie, one that has a low score on Rotten Tomatoes, do you ever think, “Maybe they’re wrong this time, maybe this will be amazing”? About a half hour into A Cure for Wellness, this is how I felt, as the movie was shaping up to be everything I hoped for and more.
About an hour in was the first time I checked the time, and sadly I checked many times after that. As I walked out the theater, I understood why the reviews were all over the place.
Everything starts out simple enough. Lockhart, played by Dane DeHaan, is sent by his company to go retrieve the CEO, Roland Pembroke, who went to a Spa in the Swiss Alps, and decided not to come back. In his quest to remove Pembroke from the Spa, Lockhart discovers that it may be harder to leave than expected.
What really got to me in that first hour was how breathtaking A Cure for Wellness is, having some of the best cinematography that I’ve seen in a long time. There is nothing lazy about the direction and style of this movie. I loved that everything was both beautiful and eerie at the same time.
I was swept into this creepy off-center world in the Swiss Alps. I both wanted to stay at this Spa and run as far away as I could.
So what was the problem?
This movie was TOO DAMN LONG.
There is a great A+ 90 minute movie in this 146 minute mess. The longer run time didn’t help the story, but actually hurt it, since all we got was a lot of back and forth between Lockhart and the main Doctor, Volmer (played by Jason Isaacs) that wasn’t necessary.
There’s so much of Lockhart snooping around and getting tiny bits of information. At first these scenes were cool, as we explore the Spa with Lockhart, but because this happened over and over, it just seemed silly that the Spa would keep Lockhart there, after they catch him MULTIPLE times. Which leads to some major plot holes…
I know some are probably thinking I’m being too nitpicky, “Sheena, this is a story about MYSTERIOUS happenings, or course not everything is going to make sense. Do you want everything to be spoon fed to you?”
Nope, but when the main character is caught, being restrained and tortured, and then we immediately jump to him escaping, that’s a problem. That’s just lazy script writing that takes me out of the movie. There’s other cases of this in the movie, but that one really pissed me off.
My other issues center around the main story behind the treatment center, but I don’t want to spoil anything. What was actually happening at the Spa was pretty cool, but the reasons WHY they were being done I didn’t like, and found to be predictable.
And the third act… *sigh*.
As many problems as I had with the movie, I still don’t think it’s wise to fully dismiss A Cure for Wellness. I can see this movie gaining a cult following, and honestly I wouldn’t mind rewatching it myself. I would probably just skip some scenes, the ones that really took me out of the experience.
If you like beautiful cinematography, some style over substance, or you need a good dose of eerie in your life, then go see a matinee. But honestly, if you aren’t jumping to go see it, I think it’s a solid rental/Netflix watch.
Score: B-/C+ range