One thing ominous stirs in Dane DeHaan’s cistern. His character, Lockhart, has been holed up in a distant Swiss well being clinic for a number of days, and there’s clearly one thing bizarre concerning the place. The nurses appear chilly and furtive; medical doctors insist that everybody has to drink gallon after gallon of water. One inmate, performed by Celia Imrie, talks darkly of a peasant rebellion that left the massive outdated fortress a smoking husk a few centuries earlier than.
That is A Cure For Wellness, a form of gothic thriller with beneficiant streaks of Cronenbergian physique horror. After a number of years of costly tentpole motion pictures for Disney – a flotilla of Pirates Of The Caribbeans, The Lone Ranger – it marks a return to the much less action-heavy work he was doing earlier in his profession, such because the shiny remake of the J-horror hit, Ring.
A A Cure For Wellness begins not within the Swiss alps, however in New York: there’s hassle brewing at a Wall Road agency, brought about partly by DeHaan’s Lockhart’s dodgy dealing. And so, for causes too prolonged to clarify right here, Lockhart’s despatched to search out the corporate’s erstwhile boss, who’s gone to the Swiss well being spa and promptly vanished.
Lockhart due to this fact packs a bag and heads to Europe, totally desiring to shove his boss in a taxi and head again to Manhattan. However a collection of occasions turns Lockhart from testy customer to helpless affected person (full with a plaster forged on his leg), and he’s left with little alternative however to wander the sanatorium’s tiled corridors looking for mysteries to unravel. Who’s that ethereal-looking lady (performed by the appropriately-named Mia Goth) who tiptoes about on the battlements? What’s that stuff the medical doctors – together with the spa’s commander in chief, Volmer (Jason Isaacs) are all the time consuming out of little blue bottles? Simply what’s that factor clattering about in Dane DeHaan’s cistern, anyway?
Such is the fodder for an honest, taut neo-gothic thriller, with secret passages, locked doorways, insanity and responsible household secrets and techniques. The one hassle is, A Cure For Wellness is way from taut: in contrast to, say, a Blumhouse horror providing, Verbinski permits his thriller to spin out for a self-indulgent 150-or-so minutes. Worryingly, the languid tempo and waltzing, Rosemary’s Child-ish theme music makes it really feel longer nonetheless.
None of that is to say that A Cure For Wellness isn’t properly shot and mounted; this can be a grand, sumptuous-looking movie, shot on location in an outdated German fortress which is as good-looking as it’s chilly and eerie. There are additionally moments of suspense and outright horror, which recall every kind of elegant style motion pictures from the 70s – Rosemary’s Child (once more), Suspiria, Marathon Man and so forth. Taken as a complete, nonetheless, the film doesn’t have sufficient happening to maintain its monumental size; the moments of creeping about and dialogue between shocks are so lengthy that there’s loads of time to determine what’s coming subsequent, or failing that, you may take into consideration what’s for dinner tonight, or wonder if you left the toilet gentle on earlier than you left the home.
DeHaan does his finest within the lead, but even an actor as gifted as he’s can’t do an excessive amount of with such a flatly-written position. Screenwriter Justin Haythe provides Lockhart a previous that ought to make him price rooting for, however within the current, he’s one thing of a humourless clean – that DeHaan is pressured to spend many, achingly lengthy minutes staring pensively at doorways, partitions, cups of water and his personal rest room doesn’t do a lot to place us in his headspace.
The supporting forged is given even much less to chew on. Jason Isaacs is saddled with an iffy German accent like a Nazi officer from British sitcom ‘Allo ‘Allo, Celia Imrie does crossword puzzles, and Mia Goth will get an early shout for probably the most thankless position for an actress in a 2017 movie. It’s this latter level that sticks within the throat like one of many six thousand cups of water Dane DeHaan quaffs by way of this interminably lengthy movie. Having stored us ready in a darkened cinema for what seems like days, the film takes us into territory that someway manages to be annoyingly apparent, absurd and distasteful all on the identical time.
Like so many American horror motion pictures, the nastiness that happens in A Cure For Wellness might have been prevented had its characters cancelled their tickets to Europe and stayed at residence. We’d strongly advise would-be cinema-goers to do the identical.