The Horror Honeys: Which Way Did He Go For ‘A Cure For Wellness’, George

Which Way Did He Go For ‘A Cure For Wellness’, George

A New Release Review with Bella

A Cure for Wellness (2017)



There is a severe lack of mad scientist movies these days. And, when one comes along, it’s hardly billed that way at all. A Cure For Wellness’ advertising was steeped in confusion and beauty and certifiability. And it should have been, because it is by far one of the most disorienting films I’ve seen in a very long time. But at it’s core, A Cure For Wellness is a mad scientist movie that requires you to look beyond subtext, take things at face value, and try not to get too turned around.

I make no bones about my being a bit of a classest bitch. I’m not particularly fond of people who trade in other people’s lives or money to get more money for themselves. I’m not talking about the unbelievably rich like Bill Gates. I’m talking about the moderately rich like, say, the POTUS, or his Wall Street pals. It’s a character flaw and I recognize that; it’s my only one, I’m sure. But, I digress. Whether you share in this classism of mine or not, A Cure For Wellness makes sure that you start watching it enraged and full of loathing for our “hero.” Because, one can only assume, the angrier you are, the more easily disoriented you will become.

A hotshot stockbroker dies, suddenly, from a heart attack, passing the torch onto a younger, more aggressive hot shot douche bro (Dean DeHaan) on the verge of his own special heart-stopping, money-grubbing ride. At the height of his celebration, he is called into the big wig’s office only to learn that his skimming ways have been found out; clearly he was taking a page out of Office Space without having seen the whole of that movie. Nearing the climax of a big merger, said bigwigs send the douche bro into the Swiss Alps to find an AWOL big wig to sign over his portion of their business, and to write off his protegé’s wrong-doings. But as we all know, once you go into the mountains, you get raped by hillbillies and never come out.

Nope.

That’s not what happens here.

Douche bro makes his way up the mountain and into the mysterious, and idyllic, wellness compound of Doctor Volmer. Here the nurses are less than helpful, and calm to a fault. The patients of the “spa” speak in languid circles while playing bridge, or croquet, and the young girl who lives on the premises may or may not be real, but she definitely isn’t afraid of heights. Douche bro confirms his douchiness throughout most communication with the staff of the wellness center, demanding the return of his big wig. When that fails, he leaves abruptly and heads back down the mountain only to get into a heinous accident with a deer. The nearest hospital is, of course, the wellness center.

And the downward spiral of his sanity begins here. Interaction between douche bro, the doctor, the staff, and the big wig are obtuse and ominous. More questions are raised than answered and the audience easily begins to wonder what the fuck kind of movie they are watching. Amidst the bizarre treatments for “wellness," which in this case is life in general, are some full-on confounding backstories, mysteries, and wide shots that make one feel pretty claustrophobic, and even lost.

From the onset, each scene setup uses angles that are sharp, and instill a sense of fear of heights in the viewer. You’re always, literally, watching A Cure For Wellness on the edge, making the feeling of being disoriented even more visceral. On top of this unsettling visual composition, there is a language barrier that becomes increasingly uncomfortable in a bar scene, that could have gone horribly awry; there are layered story lines that the audience is forced to keep separate but together; and all the while you are left questioning what you’ve seen and what may or may not be real.

I struggled with figuring out what was happening in A Cure For Wellness, which actually made it fun for me. Was this a ghost story? Was this an immortal tale? Was this an alternate dimension or did it even involve time travel? The maze of the spa, the height of the mountains, the strange connection between the young girl, Hannah (Mia Goth), and the rest of the center, the overlapping story lines, all forced me to give up on not one thread, but all threads, and just watch the fucking movie.

I’m glad I did. The twists and turns were delightful, if bizarre. Hannah was very much real, and the Doctor was damn near immortal. The easily phallic eels played a role that wasn’t at all phallic and the connection between the Doctor and Hannah was far more disturbing than anything you would have guessed. And, the interesting thing in all of this? Every. Single. Answer. Was. Given. To. You. If you were able to focus and not get lost in the looming shots, meandering hallways, and almost gibberish-ly cyclical script.

I don’t want to give too much more away than that, because if you haven’t seen the movie, I highly recommend that you do. It was gorgeous and confounding and brilliantly-crafted to hide things in plain sight.


There are, of course, deeper themes at play in A Cure For Wellness: a woman’s sense of self, the freedom of a woman’s sexuality, the inherent evil of over-achieving, one’s warped sense of self, psychology, the mistreatment of eels… But, in a movie this layered, I prefer not to go too deep, since what you’re left with, at the end, is something all together shallow and downright muddy.

Zombie Honey Rating: 4 vials of what is almost certainly eel semen.