A Cure for Wellness Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, Mia Goth. Directed by Gore Verbinski. Rated R. Opens Friday citywide.
After spending several years lost in the blockbuster wilderness (with three increasingly bloated Pirates of the Caribbean movies and an ill-advised adaptation of The Lone Ranger), director Gore Verbinski takes on an original vision with the self-indulgent but gorgeously creepy horror movie A Cure for Wellness. Verbinski made one of the 21st century’s most influential horror films with 2002’s The Ring, and while Cure is unlikely to become nearly as influential (and might turn off mainstream audiences with its deliberately elliptical storytelling), it exhibits the same sense of style and control, relying on images and atmosphere more than shocking plot developments.
Dane DeHaan plays Lockhart, an ambitious investment banker sent by his bosses to a remote resort in the Swiss Alps to retrieve the company’s CEO, who has gone dark at a crucial time for the firm. Once there, though, Lockhart finds he has trouble getting away. The explanation for what is going on with sinister Dr. Volmer (Jason Isaacs) and his “treatment” is not nearly as shocking as Verbinski and screenwriter Justin Haythe make it out to be, but the movie’s lush, carefully composed visual style and slowly building dread make for an enveloping, continually unsettling experience that draws from Frankenstein movies (both Universal and Hammer), Gothic novels, Hitchockian suspense thrillers and Italian giallo. It might not entirely make sense, but it’ll still leave you with chills.