A Cure for Wellness is a weird and wonderful gothic thriller. Gore Verbinski relies on audience familiarity with the tropes of genre in order to bewilder and beguile.
Corporate rising star Lockhart is tasked with a mission to retrieve his company’s CEO from a “wellness centre” in the Swiss Alps. When he arrives, things do not appear to be all they seem, despite the calm atmosphere…
Directed by Gore Verbinski and scripted by Justin Haythe (based on a story by the pair), A Cure for Wellness is a gothic gem. The film offers a premise with enough of a hook to reel viewers in. Little is revealed about the protagonist; the mystery initially centres on Pembroke, the CEO Lockhart is tasked with bringing back. As the film progresses, there are various levels of intrigue, from the constantly updated history of the place, to the background and whereabouts of characters.
From the outset, it is clear that there is something awry with the “wellness centre”. Verbinski tempts with some common genre tropes, and allows viewers to ponder these. The film unfolds at its own pace, offering both visual substance and mystery to keep the audience entertained. Verbinski builds layers on these tropes, dropping hints but keeping viewers guessing over final outcome. The psychological aspects of the genre are writ large in this film. Furthermore, the imagery is striking and memorable. The film’s use of iconography borrows heavily from gothic texts. Fans of this genre will likely enjoy spotting the influences.
From an early shot of the winding road to the centre, the cinematography indicates that the film will be a visual feast. There are some great shots, as well as a restricted colour palette to give a distinctive look. Art direction in the film is fantastic. The score is used appropriately, and the sound design highly effective. Dane DeHaan offers a solid performance as Lockhart. Mia Goth is striking as Hannah, whilst Jason Isaacs makes a decent antagonist.
A Cure for Wellness is a salve for those wanting delicious gothic excess in a contemporary setting. The film is peculiar and outlandish, and very entertaining for this.