A Cure for Wellness leaves lasting impression
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Gore Verbinski, director of The Ring (2002) and the original Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, released yet another shockingly beautiful film this winter. A Cure for Wellness was released in theatres on February 17th, 2017 and almost immediately received mixed reviews. According to IMDb.com, after filming the entire two and a half hour film in the mountains of Germany with a budget of $40,000,000, A Cure for Wellness grossed over $42,000,000 in the opening weekend alone. The film, despite being successful, has only received a 45% rating on RottenTomatoes.com, and an average of 6.6 out of 10 on IMDb.com. It is quickly becoming apparent that A Cure for Wellness requires an acquired taste from its audience to be fully appreciated.
Cult classic films are not nearly as intimidating as the nickname may make them out to be, but are films that have grown a somewhat small fan base with a very strong preference for the avant-garde and experimental. According to Nerve.com, some of the most famous cult classics include Donnie Darko, A Clockwork Orange, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Many of these films do not even hit theatres and remain underground, only appearing at festivals or are released online with little to no advertising. A Cure for Wellness was produced by Regency Enterprises, which may not be a familiar name, but is parented by 20th Century Fox, meaning the film does not fall into the indie category and does not fit into the average definition of a cult classic. This could have lead to the dissatisfaction many felt, as it remains in the grey area between underappreciated classics with a cult following and mainstream flops.
Written by Verbinski himself along with Justin Haythe, most known for Revolutionary Road starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio (IMDb.com), A Cure for Wellness is an original story following a New York stock broker, referred to as only Lockhart and played by actor Dane DeHaan, who has found himself sent on a trip to a remote town in the Swiss Alps by the board of a major company. Lockhart’s only instructions on his trip are to bring back the CEO of the company from a remote treatment center where his contact with the board has been cut off.
Upon his arrival, Lockhart immediately senses that the pristine white outfits and eerie smiles of the patients, nurses, and doctors are all too perfect for the treatment centers true intentions to align with the idealism of its appearance. Not far into the film, he finds himself unable to leave the dystopia that sits on top of a winding road through the woods and mountains, held within a castle that has an obscure, disturbing history of its own.
The level of discomfort and intensity does not subside throughout the entire duration of the film, leaving no room for boredom but an abundance of room for questions. The plot takes numerous turns that may seem cliche on the surface, but are pulled together in a way that makes it truly unique. Mixed with fascinating, captivating set design and cinematography, the flawless acting from DeHaan and co-star Mia Goth makes this new-wave cult classic incredibly distinct.
This film is rated R by the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) for disturbing content, violence, assault, and some nudity. None of these themes are consistent, or take away from the beauty of this film. The opening credits roll in with dark yet stunning footage of New York City and are soon accompanied by incredible shots of the Swiss Alps.
Verbinski did not create anything movie lovers have never seen before. There is little shock-factor, and could probably be compared to other psychological thrills such as Shutter Island, Psycho, or Silence of The Lambs. The one thing that completely sets it apart from any other film is the ominous sensation that comes attached to it, almost like the film is larger than itself. Writers Gore Verbinski and Justin Haythe have created a world that reflects reality, and edges on overwhelming existentialism. A Cure for Wellness is an uncomfortable, disturbing, beautiful film that could quite literally make audiences skin crawl.