A young but ambitious Wall Street manager named Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) is sent to a spa in the Swiss Alps to bring back Pembroke (Harry Groener), one of the big chiefs in the company. Upon arrival, he meets the slightly creepy director of the place, Volmer (Jason Isaacs) along with Pembroke, who has no intention of leaving the spa and going back to the hustle and bustle of NYC. When Lockhart tries to leave, he gets in a car accident and ends up having to stay longer than he had anticipated. Which would have been fine had he been in any other spa, but this place is just plain creepy. And at that point both the viewer and Lockhart don’t even know half of what’s going on.
A Cure For Wellness marks director Gore Verbinski’s return to the horror genre. After 2002’s The Ring, Verbinski went on to direct three Pirates of the Caribbean flicks along with two more Johnny Depp projects in the form of Rango and The Lone Ranger. It may have taken him 15 years, but he is finally back to terrorize the viewer. Well, at least that was the idea.
Let’s start with the positive… the movie looks downright amazing. Everything from the location, the production design, the lighting, the framing… it’s stunning. It is also the reason that in spite of its long running time (almost two and a half hours) and the sometimes slow pacing, the movie never becomes boring. The scene where Lockhart is put in a bigass sensory deprivation tank alone is worth watching for.
Which brings us to the negatives… yes, plural. Did this movie really need to go on for two and a half hours? Probably not. But I can still deal with that. What’s worse though is the plot. It starts off promising with a few elements of Shutter Island and The Shining, but during the movie’s second half it slowly starts to dissolve into a B-movie with a slightly ridiculous finale. And by slightly, I mean incredibly.
So yeah, A Cure For Wellness looks amazing but doesn’t really have much of anything else going on except for the mysterious atmosphere. And even that gets kinda tedious after a while. To put in a Pinterest-worthy quote, beauty without depth is just decoration.