A Cure For Wellness (18.)
Directed by Gore Verbinski.
Starring Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, Mia Goth, Celia Imrie, Adrian Schiller and Harry Groener. 146 mins.
Hollywood has a very sly way of dealing with gripes about its committee driven creative process and the way it stifles originality and individuality: every once and a while they allow an individual to be creative. They pick a director who has made them heaps of money helming blockbusters and let him loose on an itch he's always wanted to scratch. The prime example of this would be Zach Synder's Sucker Punch, an unfathomable assemblage of pipsqueak pretensions that had you yearning for a nice sensible sequel or franchise superhero flick.
Here the director of Pirates of the Caribbean 1-3 has been allowed to indulge himself with a Hammer Health Spa of Horror number, set in the Swiss Alps, that somehow manages to dribble on for nearly two and half hours as it searches for something to merit our attention. It's a much more sedate, circumspect fiasco than Sucker Punch, but its failure is just as total.
DeHann, gaunt, baggy eyed a shoe-in for the part of Rodney in any Hollywood version of Only Fools and Horses, is an evil banker sent to bring back the CEO of the company who has gone to the treatment centre where nobody ever leaves. Once there he tries to uncover its sinister secrets but seems to take ages doing so. There is much unnecessary toing and froing which serves no purpose other than killingtime and delaying the moment we get to the big reveal that is arbitrary and irrelevant.
The title suggests the whole thing might have been inspired by The Road To Welville, a little seen Alan Parker satire about the birth of the health industry with Anthony Hopkins as Dr Kellogg, the one that invented the cornflake. Though that film was light, and this one is dark there are plenty of visual overlaps. The title also implies that some deeper message is being expressed, but the plot is too contrived and trite to do any heavy lifting. The plot seems to exists for no other reason than to provide a series of striking images that Verbinski always wanted to shoot. The problem is that these striking images are more tired and second hand than striking. So you are left with an exercise in style over substance, without much style. And it's all eels, almost every visual shock involves eels. What's so scary about eels? A little of what eels you goes a long way.