Movie Review: “A Cure for Wellness”
A Cure for Wellness
Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) is a young business executive of a company. In order to close a big deal, his boss needs him to retrieve their company’s CEO. This man is now in Sweden and is staying at a strange institution. They have not been able to contact him directly, but the staff at the institution are claiming that he is "not well".
Thus, Lockhart journeys to Sweden to find the CEO, but when he arrives at the institution, things start to get weird. The patients and doctors are obsessed with drinking water constantly, and all patients claim that they are "not well"—using those words exactly; the same words that the staff used to describe the man that Lockhart is here to retrieve. When Lockhart fails at getting the CEO to come back on his first attempt, Lockhart leaves the institution to go into town. However, on the ride into town, a deer hits the car, which results in a brutal car crash. Lockhart wakes up back in the strange institution, but he now has a broken leg. The staff urge him to stay until his leg heals, but he begins to suspect that he is not allowed to leave. Something very strange is going on here, and Lockhart must learn what is going on in this institution, and find a way to get him and the CEO out of the institution before they both go mad.
The Pros & Cons
Creepy & Messed Up (+10pts)
Other Patients (+3pts)
Not Shutter Island (+2pts)
Main Storyline (-5pts)
Pro: Creepy & Messed Up (+10pts)
Creepy and messed up, that is pretty much this movie in a nutshell. A Cure for Wellness was advertised as a creepy, messed up, psychological thriller and the filmmakers certainly delivered on that promise. A movie such as this, could run the risk of getting over saturated in all the creepiness, but this one did not suffer from that issue. Around every corner, there seemed to be something that was more creepy and more demented than what had already been shown, and this made it so that the movie never got dull.
I never got numb to the creepiness, as it was constantly escalating. A Cure for Wellness was dark, it was twisted, and it was full of bizarre imagery from beginning to end that will keep you engaged. You will be curious to see how everything will play out, and how all of the creepy imagery would be related to what was happening. Did the filmmakers wrap everything up in a satisfying way? More or less, but this movie was really all about the creepy and mysterious journey, and the filmmakers delivered in that area.
Con: Idiot (-8pts)
Wow, this character (Lockhart) was a moron. There were so many obvious signs as to what was going on and how it was happening, yet the main character was oblivious and arrogant. Throughout the majority of the movie, this character stumbled to conclusions that the audience learned 45 minutes prior, even though the main character witnessed everything that the audience did. The reason that the filmmakers made the character so dumb was obviously that the plot would have gone a very different way if the main character was even half intelligent.
The filmmakers knew that, had an even remotely intelligent person been in this scenario, they would have seen what was happening, gotten out before it was too late, and they would have gone to the police. However, that is not the story that the filmmakers wanted to tell. Rather than write a clever story in which a reasonable person could not figure out what was going on quickly, and rather than write a story that trapped a reasonable person even if they figured it out, the filmmakers decided to just make the main character an idiot and play it off as "mystery". It ended up making it so that I almost enjoyed the scenes when Lockhart was miserable, because his ignorance and obliviousness almost made him deserve it. I get that in movies such as this it is sometimes beneficial to have an oblivious main character, but when literally none of the clues were subtle, it caused the main character to be an unlikable idiot.
Pro: Other Patients (+3pts)
Fortunately, the other patients made this movie way more interesting than it could have been. They were both creepy and compelling whenever they were on screen. My only wish was that we could have seen more of these other patients and less of the doctors. All of the actors who played the patients gave great and suspenseful performances, which made the scenes they were in very intense. These characters felt unstable and unpredictable, and they provided comedy, horror and moved the plot along in times when the main character could not figure things out. While they were not as much of a focus as I think that they should have been, these characters definitely improved this movie.
Con: Predictable (-5pts)
This may seem a bit redundant after my rant on how dumb the main character was, but all the clues in this movie were way too obvious. Certain lines of dialogue ruined the "surprise" reveal at the end of the movie, and in a movie like this—a creepy and psychological thriller—the audience should be kept guessing the whole time. Instead, the filmmakers delivered obvious clues and a moronic character then pretended that the reveal was a surprise. A Cure for Wellness had serious potential, and could have been the next Shutter Island—simply in terms of an intense and suspenseful thriller set in a creepy institution—but the filmmakers failed to deliver the truly suspenseful thriller that this movie could have been.
Pro: Not Shutter Island (+2pts)
I know it may be weird to give credit to a movie for not being like another movie, but one of my biggest concerns going into A Cure for Wellness was that it seemed to be too similar to Shutter Island. If you have seen that movie then you know what I am talking about. When mentioning to friends that this movie was coming out and getting nothing but confusion as a response, I had to (several times) say that it was "that Shutter Island movie". While its premise was obviously similar, I was concerned that it was going to be a rehashed version of that story. Thankfully the filmmakers went in a completely different direction. Sure, it had its similarities, but this movie ended up feeling like its own thing, and that was a relief.
Con: Main Storyline (-5pts)
The main storyline for A Cure for Wellness was an absolute mess. For the first half of the movie, the main story-line was exactly what I explained in the synopsis. Then, about halfway through, the movie took a turn and pretty much forgot all about everything that came before. To make things worse, the filmmakers did very little to convince us on why we should care about the initial story-line. I did not care about this young executive and I did not care about this mission to find the CEO. I knew that it was the main character's goal, but beyond that, I did not care about the mission at all, and I certainly did not believe that this mission would be enough to keep the main character in the crazy institution that I knew he was about to enter. In other words, the main plot of this movie did little to get me invested in what was happening, which made the events that transpired within the institution feel meaningless.
Grade: C- (72pts)
Based on the high potential of this movie, it ended up being a disappointment. It was supposed to be an intense, and suspenseful, psychological thriller, and it just did not live up to that potential. Some elements of the movie worked, such as the supporting characters (the patients) and the overall creepiness of the film, but due to the obvious clues and the dumb main character, I simply was not invested in what was happening. It was not a bad movie, so if you cannot find anything better to watch, then go ahead and watch this one, but just remember to manage your expectations.