There’s a good thriller inside this soggy trapped-in-an-evil-hospital movie. 2 stars out of 4.
How you react to Gore Verbinski’s strange, stately horror movie “A Cure For Wellness” may have a lot to do with how you feel about leeches. Or maybe they’re eels, or some sort of nasty watery snake; in any case, they keep popping up in the film, sort of like the ax in a serial-killer movie. (For the record, I just Googled “leeches.” Not recommended.) If this sounds off-putting, off you go — this isn’t your movie. It wasn’t really mine either, but I can’t quite dismiss it; there’s an interesting movie somewhere inside “A Cure For Wellness,” screaming to get out.
At the center of the story is a slick young man named Lockhart (Dane DeHaan, styled to look like the dissolute younger brother of Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Wolf of Wall Street”), a stockbroker who’s sent to a remote alpine spa on a mission: to find and bring back with him his company’s CEO (Harry Groener). The spa, however, is a very odd place, sort of like the hotel in “The Shining” crossed with an extremely sterile 1930s hospital, and filled with a weirdly serene, bathrobed clientele. Lockhart quickly finds himself pulled into the place, intrigued by a mysteriously pale young woman (the excellently named Mia Goth) and diagnosed, like the other inhabitants, with a strange malaise.
If Verbinski could have trimmed about an hour from the film (which weighs in at a portly 146 minutes), he might have had something. “A Cure For Wellness” looks terrific — clearly money was spent on production values, which is always a pleasant surprise in a non-franchise film. (The great Jenny Beavan, who won Oscars for “A Room with a View” and “Mad Max: Fury Road,” designed the costumes.) And the first half of the film nicely creates a squirmy, elegant tension. But then . . . well, those leech/eel creatures make a few too many appearances (yikes! in a bathtub!), as do some creepy water tanks and a prolonged scene of dental torture, and the whole thing drags on so long you start forgetting why Lockhart ever showed up at this place. And wondering when he — and you — can leave.
Movie Review ★★
‘A Cure for Wellness,’ with Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, Mia Goth, Celia Imrie, Harry Groener. Directed by Gore Verbinski, from a screenplay by Justin Haythe and Verbinski. 146 minutes. Rated R for disturbing violent content and images, sexual content including an assault, graphic nudity, and language. Several theaters.