A CURE FOR WELLNESS (2016) is an average horror thriller dressed up as art. I enjoyed it but found it failing to live up to its extraordinary potential.
The story begins with Lockhart, who is assigned by his employers to travel to a restored castle in a remote town in the Swiss Alps to retrieve Mr. Pembroke, one of the financial firm’s partners who has entered a wellness center and won’t come home. Lockhart’s flaw is he despises weakness and believes one can only survive by being ruthless. He travels to the center but ends up in a car accident, resulting in him becoming one of the patients. Along the way, he unravels the mystery of the “cure” that the patients are hooked and the mystery of the castle itself. He solves his flaw by caring for another person, Hannah, the mad scientist’s daughter.
The film is visually beautiful, laced with mystery, and featuring a horror element that is intriguing. However, when all is revealed, it’s interesting but pretty conventional stuff. Part of the problem is A CURE FOR WELLNESS sprawls and is weakly structured, making you wait seemingly endlessly for that reveal, and the protagonist simply wasn’t likeable enough to keep me invested. In that way, it reminded me of some of Tim Burton’s movies, which I love to look at but otherwise bored me to tears. I think for me I had a problem with big expectations. The trailer was amazing, promising a lurid psychological horror mystery, but in the end it delivered fairly conventional fare with great visuals.
As a side note, 20th Century Fox, the production company, got into trouble by creating fake news websites to promote the film. Big mistake.
All said, A CURE FOR WELLNESS is a visually arresting and otherwise somewhat engaging film, but doesn’t deliver on its extraordinary potential.