Down With the Sickness: A CURE FOR WELLNESS (2017) Review

A young man is sent to a wellness institution in the Swiss Alps in order to retrieve a colleague. When he gets there he discovers that those who are admitted into the institution don’t want to leave. It isn’t long before he finds himself admitted and discovering the dark secrets of the building.

A Cure For Wellness is a movie that keeps your attention from beginning to end. And this is a huge deal because the movie is nearly two and a half hours long, so I was really worried I would get bored. Throughout the movie, some secrets are gradually revealed until it all leads to the final reveal. The story is really engaging but at the same time one of its biggest flaws is that it feels very bloated with so much going into it. It all fits, but the problem is they could have made it much more simple instead of trying to add all of these different ideas in the plot. The fact that it felt the need to add so many plot points and devices is what causes it to have such a long running time. And while even though I didn’t find it boring, it was a very unnecessary length. So much of it could have been taken out. A good chunk of the movie is our lead wandering around the facility and playing detective. This is an example of what could have been taken out, along with the fact that they could have simplified much of the backstory. I respect it for trying to play it smart and make all of the plot devices fit into the story, but in the end, a much more simple and straightforward story would have sufficed better.

While the twist is fairly interesting, it is way too over-thought in how to make it work. It got to the point where I almost thought the deer that caused the accident for the lead to be admitted into the facility was part of the whole thing. I don’t want to trash it too much though because it does try to be different than, for example, Shutter Island. And at some point it seems like it’s going be exactly like that one. But to its credit it does what it can to be really different from movies of its type. It’s really weird, makes you think about what’s going on, what will happen next, and just what the hell you just watched. But plain and simple, it just tries to play it TOO smart for its own good. But for me personally, what I liked most was the amazing atmosphere and cinematography. It’s so beautifully filmed with amazing scenery, and just a gloomy and often chilling atmosphere. It’s by the same director of The Ring (Gore Verbinski), so it really captures the same gloom and dread feeling of that movie. The facility itself is also a great character in itself and the production design of it is as beautiful and haunting as the cinematography. It does have some pretty uncomfortable moments involving teeth and eels that might make you squirm. Plus there’s a lot of nudity featuring old people, so that’s pretty disturbing as well.

In terms of acting, I really haven’t cared for Dane DeHaan, and he’s not any better here. He’s very bland and has this very unlikable demeanor about him, the character isn’t very likable either, and I feel that can go either way whether it’s DeHaan’s fault or the character. Jason Isaacs however turns in an excellent performance as the film’s villain. For a majority of the film he has the calm exterior, but you know inside there’s a monster waiting to show itself. So when that happens at the end, Isaacs lets it all out. Mia Goth stars as the mysterious character named Hannah whom is considered a “special case” by Isaacs’ character. Goth captures the mysterious Hannah in a way that leave us wanting to know who she is, while even being unsure of herself. Not only does she portray Hannah’s mysteriousness well, but she also captures how damaged Hannah is and how trapped she feels within the confines of the facility.

A Cure For Wellness is a beautifully filmed and directed movie with a fresh story, some good acting, but the script overdoes itself just for the sake of not trying to be simple, which would have worked better. It gets props for being thoroughly engaging for its lengthy (but unnecessary) runtime, but it definitely could have trimmed much of its content.

–Cody Landman