Review: A Cure For Wellness is a beautiful living nightmare

Dane DeHaan in A Cure For Wellness
Dane DeHaan in A Cure For Wellness

Matt Adcock reviews  A Cure For Wellness (18), starring Jason Isaacs

“Do you know what the cure for the human condition is? Disease...”

With a name like ‘Gore’ it’s little wonder that director Gore ‘Pirates of the Caribbean 1-3’ Verbinski decided to go back to the horror genre. Anyway, here we have A Cure For Wellness, which sees corporate weasel Lockhart (Dane ‘Chronicle’ DeHaan) sent to try and find out what’s up with his company's CEO, Roland Pembroke (Harry ‘Road To Perdition’ Groener. He’s holed himself up in an idyllic but mysterious "wellness centre" in the Alps and left a note that he’s not coming back – which is an issue as there’s a big deal which needs his signature.

So, the scene is set and there follows a tense, brooding and increasingly creepy build-up as young Lockhart travels to the centre and finds much more than he bargained for. The spa is run by Dr Volmer (Jason ‘Fury’ Isaacs) who recommends Lockhart try some of their unique therapies while he recovers from an accident. The problem is that the small print on these treatments would read something like “liable to induce unhinged nightmarish visions – mostly ripped off from other horror films".

From this point A Cure For Wellness becomes a slow burn of freakish and disturbing elements that will make you squirm, scream and cringe. While at the centre Lockhart meets a strange young girl named Hannah (the excellently name Mia Goth), who, like Dr Volmer, takes the ‘cure’ – a weird serum only available at the spa.

Things get even more insane when it transpires there’s a horrible history to the castle the wellness centre is built on but enough of the plot – what you need to know is that this is an incredibly stylish, beautifully shot, living breathing nightmare writ large.

It’s fair to say that A Cure For Wellness not so much tips the hat at horror directors like Stanley Kubrick and John Carpenter as head-butts them in the face and makes off with some of their best bits. Verbinski doesn’t seem to know when to quit either letting the film run on for over two and half hours packed with some seriously 18-rated material which is liable to test those easily offended.

Not for the faint of heart, the Dr will see you now. Don’t be scared - it’s a scream.