An ambitious young executive, Lockhart, (Dane Dehaan) is sent to a ‘wellness’ centre to retrieve his company’s CEO. Upon arrival, he realises the centre, run by the mysterious Volmer (Jason Isaacs) and set in an ancient castle perched above a village in the Swiss Alps, is possibly more dangerous than it appears.
Directed by Gore Verbinski, A Cure For Wellness pays homage to the classic gothic narrative, but with some nice subversion of the feminine role; a sceptical outsider is drawn into an ancient castle a top a hill, one simultaneously feared and revered by the villagers below. The film is somewhat heavy handed with hints, but this is more in line with gothic films again, hinting at the monster before revealing it.
What sets itself up as a cautionary tale against capitalist greed, dissolves into a story of lost innocence, of rebirth in death. It seems unsure whether it wants to focus on Lockhart’s or Hannah’s journey. The film is peppered with mixed imagery and themes, and any impactful meaning is diluted amongst the jarring symbolism. It’s unclear whether the film intends to be ambiguous and confusing in an attempt to mimic the protagonist’s mental state, as he questions the reality of his situation.
The film’s visuals are surreal in their lighting and colour, making the introduction to the centre in particular dream-like and sentimentally airy. However, this, like the imagery and symbolism, is inconsistent throughout. Whether this was intentional or not, it leads to a confused audience, and the film cannot be watched lightly. It requires deep consideration afterwards to fully appreciate the subtleties within it.
Overall, the film is a very long psychological thriller, which will leave audiences squirming in their seats. I rate this film 5/10.