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Review: A Cure for Wellness – “Beautifully mesmerising yet strangely empty”

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A Cure for Wellness follows ambitious banker Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) who is consigned by his directors to track down his companies CEO who left for a strange medical retreat in Switzerland and never returned. When Lockhart arrives at the resort however, it seems that something more sinister is at play. As he himself gets trapped, his investigations point to the creepy Doctor Heinrich Volmer and a mysterious young girl (Mia Goth).

However, much like the fabled resort, all isn’t well with the film itself so Dr Nightingale takes a clinical examination of the subject.

Dr: Well now A Cure For Wellness, what seems to be the problem?

Cure: Well Doctor, I feel a bit bloated.

Dr: Let’s take a look at you then shall we? Well, your vital signs seem to be in excellent health, your cinematography is visually stunning, almost hypnotic at times. Adaptable director Gore Verbinski (The Ring) brings an inventive visual style to craft the sinister clinic at the heart of your story. The long tiled corridors reminiscent of a 1900s mental hospital and the ominous medical equipment intensify the sense of the sinister. As do the stern nurses. It’s sometimes quite visceral. The Castle Spa is almost a character in its own right, isn’t it.

Cure: Phew, well that’s reassuring.

Dr: Speaking of characters there are some admirable performances as well. Dane DeHaan as power hungry investment banker Lockhart is skillful at conveying a range of emotions. Jason Issacs is effective as Dr Volmer, never particularly scary, more unnerving. You might want to work a little more on the other players though, especially Hannah (Mia Goth). She’s called a ‘special case’ which instantly raises questions about why she is at the spa but she is terribly underused, the script limiting her involvement. So maybe more dialogue and exercise.

Cure: Ok, that aside, what is wrong with me, despite having a well-established director?

Dr: Well let’s check your test results. Ah I see, its a promising start. It seems that you run quite well for the first hour or so. A little bit slow paced but it concentrates on a mesmerising appeal. The enigma of the spa is sufficient and you manage to build up a sense of foreboding quite well.

Cure: Is that good?

Dr: Well it’s an excellent early sign. It keeps us invested as the mystery unfolds. It’s a bit reminiscent of Shutter Island. Now, open wide and say ‘ahhh’

Cure: Ahhh

Dr: That’s not very scary is it? It’s more like a building sense of dread than any shock scare. Oh by the looks of things it seems you might see some uncomfortable dentistry work.

Dr: Hmm, I think I’m beginning to see what the problem is, you seem to be experiencing a bit of stuttering after your good start. Everything seems to stagnate as if you are stretching the suspense out too far and in a film over two hours, that’s an issue. You do manage to look deeper into whether modern business life and achievement is itself an illness, don’t you. But, there is only a fleeting focus on whether Lockheart is unwell in the traditional sense or whether his suspicions about the retreat are correct.

Cure: Yawn

Dr: Oh dear, then your plot takes a ridiculous yet predictable turn, slightly whacky some might say. Quite a few slippery eels in there as well aren’t there?

Cure: Doctor, just tell me. Can I be saved?

Dr: Well my diagnosis is chronic plot deficiencies with a swelling of run time, 2 hours and 26 minutes to be exact. Your symptoms suggest events are drawn out too much. After the excellent start, the laboured pacing reveals your depleted plot. This causes some to think acute self-indulgence but that depends on your school of thought. It’s not all bad news though you possess some gorgeous visuals and some good acting but it’s marred slightly by your progressively worsening condition.

Cure: What’s the cure then Doc?

Dr: Well, you have two courses of action, there is enough here to keep someone entertained for the run-rime, just at a slow pace. So, if you prefer your gothic horror beautifully mesmerising yet strangely empty on plot then you could pay a visit to the cinema.

Cure: And the other?

Dr: Well you could, and in my professional advice this the best way forward, relax put your feet up and wait for the home release. Either way, I am putting 3 stars in your medical records. Now then, is there anything else I can do for you?

Cure: I want a second opinion.

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