Let’s be honest, where does one start with A CURE FOR WELLNESS? For starters, what kind of film is it? Well it is a sci-fi/ mystery/ psychological thriller/ fairy tale/and body horror cluster fuck. It makes way for some critical thinking more toward the end of the film where they finally decide to pull all the strings of information and twists.
Directed by Gore Verbinski (THE RING, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN franchise), A CURE FOR WELLNESS is a film that follows a young New York finance executive who is sent to retrieve his company’s CEO from an eerie “wellness center” located in the Swiss Alps. It soon becomes apparent that there’s something sketchy and macabre going on deep within the walls of this facility. Right off the bat, I thought this film was really going somewhere. Unfortunately, with its wickedly nice imagery of horrors, the later half of the film couldn’t quite carry its weight in narrative.
I came across a comment on the RogerEbert.com review of the film that said, “But at least it’s not “The Human Centipede.” And I really loved that comment, haha, because while having a genuine and original idea, the story is just so dry. It didn’t pull me in, and Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) as a character never became relevant to me. Quite honestly, I was rooting against the dude. A CURE FOR WELLNESS has a lot of nice visuals, but it just didn’t have enough substance in the script.
Where the storytelling drive runs short, we still have the visuals. The redeeming quality of A CURE FOR WELLNESS is Yugoslavian-born Bojan Bazelli. Yes, that’s right, the cinematographer of the film. The camera work in this film is what made the two and a half hours a little less painful to the eyes. Bazelli’s work really is a sight for sore eyes alongside the first half of the story, which was all going so brilliantly and in tune. Take a peek at the various stills straight from the film!
In an interview with No Film School, Bazelli discusses his uprising in film, his opportunities in the United States, and expresses the imagery in the film. Totally go check it out. A really interesting read! “If you can achieve the image that speaks emotions in the context of the story, you have done your job fantastically. That’s pretty much all [cinematographers] try to do,” said Bazelli.
So thank you, Bazelli, for your visually arresting shots of mysterious, slightly creepy, idiosyncratic euphoria. It brings me to a problem though. Do I like A CURE FOR WELLNESS at all? Here’s the thing, the idea is indeed original. It’s got “Hey ! I’m produced straight outta Hollywood, but I’m not another reboot or sequel! Gimme a chance!,” written all over it, haha. So you already want to give it a shot… It’s a shame that this film is actually so original and beautiful to watch, and yet at the same time, so dull in the storytelling department. It’s enchanting and jarring of a film, but it ultimately falls prey to the contents of its own demise.
And if you are a Verbinski fan and/or really enjoyed A CURE FOR WELLNESS, his next film will be SPACELESS, a science fiction suspense film in pre-production, so let’s cross our fingers on that one.