A Cure for Wellness is a 2016 American-German psychological horror thriller film directed by Gore Verbinski (The Ring; first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies) from a screenplay by Justin Haythe (based on a story by Haythe and Verbinski). It was produced by Arnon Milchan, Verbinski, and David Crockett for Regency Enterprises.
On February 13, 2017, BuzzFeed reported that A Cure for Wellness was being promoted on five fake local news websites – such as the now defunct ‘Salt Lake City Guardian’ – that have been spreading hoax stories about Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin meeting secretly, a Utah bill to jail and publicly shame women who received abortions, a “groundbreaking study” on the mental health challenges of liberals, Lady Gaga planning to include a tribute to Muslims during her recent Super bowl performance, plus other toxic topics. The sites hosted ads for the film itself and for a fake water brand that direct visitors to the website promoting the film.
Commenting on this obviously controversial promotional tactic, The Verge said:
“It should be obvious that creating fake news websites to promote a film is irresponsible, especially given the present political climate. Fake news had a real and detrimental effect on online discourse before the election, forcing companies like Apple and Facebook to respond.”
Variety reported that social media users generally gave the marketing subterfuge negative marks. One person on Twitter said: “Sets a frightening precedent for Hollywood to manipulate.” Another said: “Boycott #CureForWellness for highly irresponsible creation of fake news in today’s environment. Wait until it’s free or bootlegged.”
Meanwhile, A Cure for Wellness is released theatrically in the US on February 17, 2017, by 20th Century Fox.
Dane DeHaan, Mia Goth, Jason Isaacs, Adrian Schiller, and Celia Imrie.
An ambitious young executive is sent to retrieve his company’s CEO from an idyllic but mysterious “wellness center” at a remote location in the Swiss Alps.
However, he soon suspects that the spa’s miraculous treatments are not what they seem. When he begins to unravel its terrifying secrets, his sanity is tested, as he finds himself diagnosed with the same curious illness that keeps all the guests here longing for the cure…
“What’s on screen here looks freakin’ fantastic from a visual standpoint and, without delving into spoiler territory, when the questions begin to be answered, it’s so outrageously ridiculous that I fell for the whole thing […] The film’s reach may exceed its grasp, but it’s a fervent fever dream, a great adventure in style and pretension that seeks to thrill and unsettle, and I loved it.” Peter Martin, Screen Anarchy
” …the explanation is a serious letdown, a tawdry cliché rehashed from the likes of The Phantom of the Opera and The Abominable Dr. Phibes. The movie deprives us of either a tragic villain or a sympathetic lead, hoping that its grab bag of squirm-inducing details — dental drills, stillborn livestock, flesh-eating eels — will suffice, when in fact, they reveal how a shorter, tighter treatment ought to have done the trick.” Peter Debruge, Variety
“Whatever his genre of the moment, Verbinski is a master of composing striking visual spectacle. So when this daring director offers up a psychological thriller about a suspicious spa, the only bet you can comfortably make is that it’ll be packed with style. Sadly, A Cure For Wellness offers far more style than substance.” Kristy Puchko, Nerdist
“There are flashes of greatness here and credit is due for its desire to be distinguishable from the pack but tonally, it’s too messy, maniacally veering from elegant restraint to unhinged hokum and the absurd running time doesn’t befit what’s ultimately a rather hollow campside tale. There’s hope for the ailing horror genre yet, but this is far from the cure.” Benjamin Lee, The Guardian
“It isn’t particularly smart, but a Hollywood product this screwy doesn’t really have to be — even at its most half-baked, A Cure for Wellness is still a thrilling reminder of what can happen in the increasingly rare instance when a visionary filmmaker is given serious cash without constraints…” David Ehrlich, IndieWire
” …A Cure for Wellness attempts to mix the horror and mystery genres together. Yet, unlike It Follows, The Witch, or The Anatomy of Jane Doe, the film takes on more than it can handle, raising too many questions for its own good, with answers that any viewer who’s watched enough movies before should be able to see coming by the end of the film’s opening act.” Alex Welch, IGN
“Viewers unprepared for how long A Cure for Wellness runs will be glancing at their watches or phones in disbelief that after 90 minutes, then 120, an ending has yet to come into sight […] The motives and rationales for all the nastiness and deceit and foul play could scarcely be sillier and less convincing, nor could the rooting interest on behalf of the alleged protagonists be more shallow.” Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
“A lot of people – most people – will complain A Cure for Wellness is too long. At 146 minutes, this is a hard point to argue. It has at least one false ending too many and there’s a sojourn into the neighboring town that could have been cut out completely. Plenty of sequences exist just to pad out the sinister atmosphere. But I was never bored, and I’m willing to accept that a movie with such a potent vision runs just a little longer than it should.” Eric Walkuski, Joblo.com
” …will appeal to fans of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and other tales of doomed love. It’s also a trippy, hallucinatory journey with Lovecraftian flair that never fails to deliver dazzling imagery. Verbinski clearly intended to give his audience something both substantial and original—and he achieves this goal. Quicker pacing […] certainly would have been appreciated.” Joshua Millican, Horrorfreak News
“It can be a little frustrating because Verbinski is a master of his craft; it’s just that he always goes overboard. Sometimes that can be enjoyable, but with just a little refinement and polish, A Cure for Wellness could have been a horror classic. Instead, it suffers from trying to do too much and teasing out mysteries that become distractions.” Matt Goldberg, Collider
“What starts as an intense, bizarre, creepy haunted medical horror is thrown to the wayside in favor of more obvious horror motifs (and a distinct “ick factor”). A Cure for Wellness looks stunning, and is worth the price of admission for the first two-thirds of the film, but be forewarned: it all falls apart in the final act.” Alyse Wax, ComingSoon.net
“A Cure for Wellness might have worked better as a one off mini series for television or even a one off eight-part series such as the first season of True Detective which itself had a lot of cinematic quality. This would allow the story to generate more interest, develop the back story and expand on further supporting characters. As a feature overall, whilst displaying a grandiose quality and some superb cinematography and production design, A Cure for Wellness seems to be stretching its length out…” James Pemberton, UK Horror Scene
“I could easily imagine a version of A Cure for Wellness that’s all suggestion and understatement, and one that’s essentially the madcap finale played out of the length of a feature, climbing to nosebleed heights of bad taste and unfurling a freak flag at the summit. Either would have been preferable to what ended up onscreen, a rag-and-bone shop of notions.” Matt Zoller Seitz, RogerEbert.com
“I almost have a soft spot for it, had it not sucked two and a half hours from my life. Which is far too much time to notice that none of this hokum makes any sense at all. It looks lush though.” Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, The London Metro
Cast and characters:
- Dane DeHaan
- Mia Goth
- Jason Isaacs
- Adrian Schiller
- Celia Imrie
- Godehard Giese
- Angelina Häntsch
- Jeff Burrell
- Annette Lober
- Eric Todd
- Christian Brauer
- Thomas Richter
- Chris Huszar
- Marko Buzin
Hohenzollern Castle, Bisingen, Germany
Saxony-Anhalt and Zella-Mehlis, Germany