Cinema listings with film information and movie reviews
A Cure for Wellness
Gore Verbinski, director of the opening three salvos of the Pirates Of The Caribbean series and Rango, slinks into bonkers territory usually inhabited by Tim Burton and Wes Anderson in this unsettling and achingly stylish psychological thriller. Set predominately in a spa located in the Swiss Alps, A Cure For Wellness casts an intoxicating spell with its deliberately off-kilter camerawork, hallucinogenic set pieces and discordant orchestral score composer by Benjamin Wallfisch. It's an impressive amalgamation of colour-bleached production design and slow-burning suspense reminiscent of the high-altitude madness of The Shining. Alas, a sustained build-up of tension dissipates in a ludicrous final act that repeatedly chooses cheap, salacious shocks over plausibility, leaving a nasty taste in the mouth at the very moment we should be smacking our lips with glee. An excessive, self-indulgent running time certainly doesn't help the medicine go down and scriptwriter Justin Haythe, who recently worked with Verbinski on the ill-fated remake of The Lone Ranger, repeatedly falls back on horror movie cliches as punchlines to his artfully contrived weirdness. Ambitious executive Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) gains rapid promotion when a colleague suffers a fatal heart attack. He is summoned to the boardroom on the 70th floor where senior staff reveal CEO Roland Pembroke (Harry Groener) has disappeared to an Alpine spa at a crucial juncture in a business deal. "Who the hell takes waters in the 21st century anyway?" growls one disgruntled board member. They need Lockhart to bring Pembroke back to New York to sign off a hugely profitable merger. As instructed, Lockhart travels by train to Switzerland and heads into the mountains by car. "There's always been bad blood between the villagers and the people on the hill," ominously remarks a taxi driver (Ivo Nandi) as Lockhart sweeps into the driveway of a picture postcard facility masterminded by director Dr Volmer (Jason Isaacs). Before Lockhart can return to company HQ, the high-flyer is involved in an accident and suffers a broken leg. He agrees to recuperate at the spa and sample the "uniquely rejuvenating properties" of the aquifer in the catacombs. Mingling with other clientele, including history buff Victoria Watkins (Celia Imrie), Lockhart learns about the facility's macabre past and he is inextricably drawn to a quixotic girl (Mia Goth). A Cure For Wellness is a fantastical yarn that promises far more than it delivers. DeHaan, Isaacs and Goth deliver ambiguous performances to stoke the air of mystery that surrounds the spa and its residents. They are ultimately undone by the stomach-churning method in the film's madness and bold narrative strokes that wouldn't seem out of place in the Gothic grandeur of the Hammer Horror output of the 1960s. The film's ambition and scope are admirable, but no picture, especially one this sprawling, can flourish principally on the heady fumes of directorial brio.