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A Cure for Wellness

"This is the worst aquarium I've been to."

Gore Verbinski has directed three “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies and “The Lone Ranger,” plus “The Ring,” “Rango,” and “Mousehunt,” as well as under-seen gems “The Mexican” and “The Weather Man.” With such a varied resume that includes remakes and adaptations, it’s hard to pin down Verbinski’s own aesthetics. What is HE interested in?

I’ve always hoped it was horror, if only because “The Ring” is great and the man’s first name is Gore, but maybe I was right. His tenth film, “A Cure for Wellness,” is a gothic thriller full of horror symbolism and a creeping sense of the sinister, and Verbinski is co-credited with the story. (The only other film he helped write was “Rango.”) There are images here as starkly unsettling as in “The Ring,” albeit without that film’s nightmarish crescendo or tight pacing, and Verbinski squeezes all the mystery he can out of Justin Haythe’s screenplay, which adorns its elemental story with morbidly colorful details.

Dane DeHaan (whose resemblance to Leonardo DiCaprio makes this film more reminiscent of “Shutter Island” than it would be anyway) stars as Lockhart, a young Wall Street hotshot who’s already chomping Nicorette gum like a veteran, dark bags under his ghostly blue eyes. Lockhart is sent to an exclusive Swiss spa to retrieve his firm’s CEO, who went there to “take the waters” and is now refusing to rejoin society.

Many titans of industry can be found at this idyllic spot in the Alps, taking various treatments for their various ailments, most of which are attributable to the fact that they are titans of industry who are working themselves to death. The head of the facility, Dr. Volmer (a keenly untrustworthy Jason Isaacs), is cagey about the details of his methods, and the eerily polite staff is well trained in making it difficult for visitors to see patients. Frustrated, Lockhart is about to try plan B when he’s injured in an accident and becomes a patient himself. All the better to snoop around, right?

[To read the rest of the review, please visit Crooked Scoreboard.]


B (2 hrs., 26 min.; R, graphic nonsexual spa nudity, some strong profanity, unsettling images and some disturbing violence.)