Director Gore Verbinski’s stylish thriller loses its way the longer it drags on
“A Cure for Wellness” reveals itself to be about less and less as it slogs along, which is especially damning for a film that painfully stretches itself out to the two-and-a-half hour mark.
At 90 minutes it could have been an eerie, tricky, well-crafted thriller. At two hours its wheels start to fall off. And then it continues to limp along for another 30 minutes, after which you wonder what the point of it all was in the first place.
Director Gore Verbinski (the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films) lends the film enough style and ambiguity early on to hook you in. It’s about a young finance exec named Lockhart (Dane DeHann) who is sent to the Swiss Alps to retrieve his boss from a mysterious rehab facility that specializes in water treatments. Something is clearly off with the center and its patients, and soon Lockhart finds himself in treatment as he tries to unravel the mystery from within.
It’s an intriguing premise, and Jason “Jon Hamm lite” Isaacs and Mia Goth do fine work as the center’s director and an enigmatic figure on the grounds, respectively. Verbinski gets a ton of mileage out of his location, a creepy German hospital that he explores every nook and cranny of, as well as the outdated equipment that supplies the film with its vintage, B-movie thrills.
Then “A Cure for Wellness” takes a handful of unexpected detours into the grotesque. A scene of dental torture is as squirm-inducing as anything in the “Hostel” movies, and some things are done with eels that will twist your stomach in knots. Which is to say nothing of the incest scene, but by that point “A Cure for Wellness” has shown it is the one that is sick and in need of help.
‘A Cure for Wellness’
Rated R: for disturbing violent content and images, sexual content including an assault, graphic nudity, and language
Running time: 146 minutes