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A Cure for Wellness

Psychological thrillers have always captured audience’s attentions. Director Alfred Hitchcock was a master in conjuring emotional terror with films such as ‘Rebecca’, ‘North by Northwest’ and ‘Psycho’. Those films played on our fears of the unknown and whether a character will suddenly snap for no reason. Whilst not in Hitchcock’s same creative league, ‘A Cure for Wellness’ shares several similarities. It proves a slow-burning thriller can successfully creep up on you by delivering surprises until a shocking denouncement.

When ambitious executive Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) is asked to retrieve his company’s CEO from a ‘wellness centre’, little does he know what he’s in for. A mysterious place nestled within the Swiss Alps, the centre’s miracle cures are a source of perplexing questions. Lockhart aims to find answers by talking to its head Doctor, Volmer (Jason Isaacs). As he begins to question his own sanity, Lockhart’s life unravels in a place where the cure is usually worse than the disease.

‘A Cure for Wellness’ is a visually striking film directed with panache by Gore Verbinski. It’s far from perfect and does suffer from over-length and huge plot holes. When it works it fires on full cylinders with Verbinski successfully ensuring tension slowly percolates. It thematically mirrors the Leonardo DiCaprio film ‘Shutter Island’, although ‘A Cure for Wellness’ takes time to delve into its many mysteries. Although the run-time could have been trimmed, it allows for characters to make their mark.

The script allows you to decipher its many riddles without treating you like a child. Not many commercial minded films are like that now, with ‘A Cure for Wellness’ an enjoyable puzzle to solve. It’s easy following the clues due to the smart direction and DeHaan’s and Isaacs’ solid performance. Isaac especially delivers a character of steely menace suitably conveying the films’ gothic horror trappings. It almost plays like an old Hammer Horror movie with a multitude of delicious twists and gaudy scenery.

Whilst the plot does deviate from the central theme occasionally and is a little long, ‘A Cure for Wellness’ makes a refreshing change from the usual blockbusters. It goes for sinister elements with gusto with the visuals sure to chill the atmosphere long after the final reel.

Rating out of 10: 7

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