Skip to main content

The City Journals

Dan's Review: disturbing content dooms "A Cure for Wellness"

Feb 17, 2017 11:15AM ● By Dan Metcalf

Dane DeHaan in A Cure for Wellness © 2017 – 20th Century Fox.

A Cure for Wellness

Rated R for disturbing violent content and images, sexual content including an assault, graphic nudity, and language.

Starring Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, Mia Goth, Adrian Schiller, Celia Imrie, Ashok Mandanna, Harry Groener, Godehard Giese, Tomas Norström, Angelina Häntsch, Jeff Burrell, Annette Lober, Eric Todd, Christian Brauer, Thomas Richter, Chris Huszar, Douglas Hamilton.

Written by Justin Haythe and Gore Verbinski.

Directed by Gore Verbinski.



Sometimes, a filmmaker can get a little crazy. Gore Verbinski, the man who brought us “popcorn fare” like original Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Rango and The Lone Ranger has suddenly decided to explore the darker realms with this weekend’s release of A Cure for Wellness, the story of an apparently sinister plot inside a Swiss Health spa.

Dan DeHaan stars as Lockhart, a young ambitious executive who is assigned to investigate why their CEO Pembroke (Harry Groener) has disavowed his business responsibilities in order to live out the rest of his life inside a spa located in the Swiss Alps. Lockhart arrives to discover mysterious circumstances, including a sequestered Pembroke, several quirky (elderly) patrons, and a robot-like staff, headed by the enigmatic Dr. Heinrich Volmer (Jason Isaacs). He also discovers Hannah (Mia Goth), the facility’s lone teenage patron who receives constant and specialized individual care from Volmer. When he in unsuccessful in getting Pembroke to leave, Lockhart decides to leave and stay in the nearby village for a night, but his limousine hits a deer and he is returned to the spa where he receives urgent care from Volmer and his staff. Whe he awakens days later, his entire leg is in a plaster cast, and he begins to receive some of Volmer’s “special” spa treatments. As his stay at the spa continues, Lockhart grows closer to Hannah, who seems to want to leave but is unable, due to constant oversight from Volmer. Lockhart also discovers something sinister behind Volmer’s treatments, including the use of deadly eels and disappearances of some of the elderly clientele. Lockhart eventually discovers the truth behind Volmer, his connection to Hannah and a dark secret from the distant past.

A Cure for Wellness is a strange and overindulgent film. Verbinsky, who also co-wrote the screenplay, showed little to no restraint regarding some very dark and disturbing elements of the story, which includes scenes depicting torture, mutilation, child rape and other troubling representations. From the beginning, the story resembles Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island, leading audiences to assume there’s an “alternate reality” at play, but in the end, it turns out that the weird, creepy and inappropriate stuff are to be taken literally.

After setting up the story as a “psychological thriller,” the climactic ending of A Cure for Wellness also devolves into your garden variety horror/monster film, complete with excessive makeup and special effects. The bait-and-switch doesn’t do the movie any service, and most audiences will not be impressed with a “surprise” ending that is less-than surprising, and isn’t very appealing, either.

A Cure for Wellness Trailer