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A Cure for Wellness Review

A Cure for Wellness follows a young, successful businessman (Dane DeHaan) who is forced to retrieve his boss from a mysterious "wellness center" housed within an ancient castle. As the center quickly appears to be more than it initially seemed, DeHaan is pulled into a chaotic nightmare of the surreal and must fight for his sanity and his life.

The film had the persona of an amalgamation of several films, yet felt wholly original. The high-concept visuals and unique style of storytelling provide this aura of inventiveness that has been rare of late in the cinema realm. There was this feeling of Crimson Peak meets Shutter Island. That sooner does a disservice to Wellness...nonetheless, I think you can pick up on both atmospheres in this film. Perhaps a more respectful comparison would be Lovecraft meets Hitchcock...well, now I just went and swung the pendulum to the other side...

Despite the successes of the film, I don't have to dig deep for criticisms. The film suffers from the same ailment that befalls other horror/thriller films of the same vein. Whenever there is a significant psychological abnormality involved, particularly when the setting is a psych ward of some kind, the plot can become convoluted. The complexities of characters' histories and motivations, especially since they are shrouded with regular redirects, become lost in the haze of the psychological deconstruction of the protagonist.

In other words, the plot is too thick for the complications that arise when the protagonist isn't sure what is real and what isn't. In many cases, this vague understanding of reality is perceived by the audience as well, and such is the situation in this film. While we have to decipher what is truth and what is deception, we also have to determine the "rules" of the world...all the while trying to solve the mystery. Perhaps it was easier for some viewers, but I felt there was quite a bit left up to interpretation, but the interpretation formed from the shattered mind of a viewer's perspective through the protagonist.

The cinematography and visual uniqueness was unmatched so far this year. Now, we're only in February, so that isn't saying much...but the film's look is enough to warrant a viewing. The acting was superb and the casting surpassed my skepticism. Despite the countless supporting actors, Dane DeHaan is forced to carry the film on his own and does a fantastic job.

There were some puzzle pieces that I feel could have fit better, but it's probably nothing a second or third viewing couldn't satisfy. There is a lot to digest in this film, and I think it's worth the process to fully consume all the nutrients it contains.

***BRIEF SPOILERS***

P.S. - The villain totally turned out to be the fusion of Dorian Gray and Leatherface...think about it...

Horror Qualifier: 7/10

Horror Quality: 6/10

Film Quality: 8/10

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