A Cure for Wellness

Posted on February 16, 2017 at 5:54 pm

Lowest Recommended Age: Preschool
MPAA Rating: Rate R for disturbing violent content and images, sexual content including an assault, graphic nudity, and language
Profanity: Very strong and crude language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Alcohol
Violence/ Scariness: Intense, graphic, and extensive peril and violence with many disturbing and graphic images, sexual assault, torture
Copyright 2016 Twentieth Century Fox

There’s jump out at you scary. And there’s something’s coming at me scary. And then there’s the slow, inexorable dread that builds inside you, and that is what director/co-writer Gore Verbinski is going for with “A Cure for Wellness.”

The unsettling through-the-looking-glass idea starts with the title itself. Isn’t wellness what a cure is supposed to achieve? Would a cure for wellness mean making a healthy person sick? Uh…yes. Prepare to feel your stomach drop like a bowling ball.

The best part of the movie is in exploring the world Verbinski creates, with production designer Eve Stewart, a health sanitarium where time seems to have stopped a century ago. A brief opening section establishes that it takes place now. An ambitious Wall Street trader named Lockhart (fast-rising star Dane DeHaan) has done something improper, and the bosses at his firm tell him that if he does not want to go to jail he has to retrieve Mr. Pembroke, the firm’s CEO, from a remote sanitarium so he can sign off on a big deal. Lockhart, confident of his ability to get deals done, and determined to stay out of trouble, takes the long, long drive up to the top of a mountain, to a facility somewhere between the Overlook Hotel in “The Shining,” the tuberculosis sanitorium in The Magic Mountain, and the Grand Budapest Hotel.

He briskly asks to see Pembroke and is informed that visiting hours are over. He does not pay enough attention to notice that things seem a bit…off. And when he is offered a glass of water, he does not hesitate to drink it. This, needless to say, is a mistake. He thinks he can leave and come back to see Pembroke later. This, also needless to say, is also a mistake.

Lockhart tries to find out what is going on. One might say that this is a mistake, too.

He starts to leave, but the car hits a deer and he wakes up in a hospital bed, his leg in a cast. Everyone is pleasant and rather vague, both staff and guests. But everything gets creepier and creepier, and it’s all atmosphere anyway. Don’t try to think about the story too much because it does not make a ton of sense and basically boils down to: creepy scene here, creepy scene there, REALLY creepy scene downstairs, excruciatingly creepy scene in the dentist’s chair, a not very surprising reveal.

Parents should know that this is a horror movie with extremely graphic and disturbing material and with many grisly and upsetting images including dead bodies, snakes, torture, sexual references and situations, nudity, sexual assault, incest, and very strong language.

Family discussion: What does Lockhart’s name tell us about the character? What does Hannah learn from him?

If you like this, try; “The Shining” and “Suspira”

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