Ever since I heard the first thing about this movie I have been bothering my friends with it. To be honest I didn’t even really know what is was about until three weeks ago or so, but that did not keep me from getting on everybody’s nerves for months because it looked so freaking beautiful.
Here is the thing, I really like horror movies and I like watching horror movies, but I don’t like cheap tricks. Also, while I love the paranormal/supernatural stuff in general I’m really picky about it when it comes to horror movies, elements yes, but in general no. And, for me to enjoy a horror movie, it has to be aesthetically pleasing, that might sound pretentious, but I just really don’t like thrashy splatter (unless it is so weird it’s good again). I think that is way I like Tarantino, some/most of his movies are really bloody in a overdone way, but it has an aesthetic allure to me. Now, with all that said, here is what I thought of A Cure For Wellness.
The Horror factor was high, it was a bit like Shutter Island – who is actually crazy, who can you trust etc. I like that, things were revealved slowly, you got to know new things about the history of sanitorium during the movie and even though I had suspicions about how everything would turn out to be, they managed to get me in a sure-unsure range (that Shutter Island thing, you know) and although I know how the movie ends up now, I would watch it again. Especially the outside of the sanatorium and the way there had some heavy Shining vibes – I mean it was summer, but still. The actual centre of the horror was very scientific and since I do like science quite a bit and think it’s a great element for horror, I enjoyed that. There were elements that were somewhat scientific bordering on supernatural, which I did not enjoy as much. I mean, I get it, I would not have wanted it any other way and I kind of appreciate it, but still it took me off a bit. However I enjoyed the combination of historic and scientific horror that was heavily based on dark psychological and human actions much rather than jumpscares and wavering lights. There were some rather revolting scenes, let’s just say morays and eels are not my favourite animals. The ending (about the last half hour) was really intense and action-packed compared to the rest of the movie, it wasn’t overdone though, and without spoiling anything, that ceremony was both beautiful and eerie.
There was a heavy contrast between the dark-ish horror and the very light, beautiful picture. I would watch this movie again just for it’s incredible beauty that almost seemed like paintings (then again I love romantic art and landscapes). If they made prints of the wellness centre, inside and out, the landscape and all that stuff, I’d buy them all. The coulour palette is very interesting, mainly white, turquoise/cyan and flesh, something so innocent and beautiful. Of course, there is the thing with the (old) bodies you see in the trailer as well, but even that is somewhat beautiful and in the same colour scheme. To me it was also interesting to see all the patients in white and Lockhart (that name, I love it) in his trenchcoat. To be honest, I also really loved the train ride with the SBB in the very beginning, I so loved the mirror effect (I do not know why, but I was so obessed with that scene). The setting is the German speaking Swiss, however the castle they used was Burg Hohenzollern in Germany and the the wellness institutions were German, too and oh my, do I want to visit all the filming locations now. And, luckily they were speaking actual German (the staff and people in the village usually spoke German) and not some mambo-jambo that no one understands. I mean, I do not mind if it sounds somewhat foreign, but I want to understand the actors speaking in my first language without subtitles – it’s one of my movie pet peeves. But seemingly they found a few German actors to fill these roles. Back in New York (in the very beginning), there was this kind of motionless sequence with all the supervisers and I think that was a great scene, too. The soundtrack was also rather subtle, and I like it when they don’t force tension by using music.
To the protagonists, Dane De Haan is one of my favourite actors, I have a strange obsession with his voice and am generally fascinated by his (slightly zombie-looking) face. His acting is superb in my opinion and he plays those torn characters so very well – Lockhart was really top notch and I like both the character and the way De Haan played him with all this intensity and tension. The girl, Mia Goth, was so fascinating as well, it was great to see an actress you could not really put an age on – also she really reminded me of Mia Wasikowska in Alice in Wonderland – those three could probably star in a zombie movie together. Also, I think the interactions both with the wellness patients and the villagers (the girls also had some Pink Ladies vibes) were adding a lot to the story as well and really showed the differences. Also, that reference to Der Zauberberg and all those little things were so amazing.
So, if you are into a great landscape and a beautiful picture, you might very well enjoy this intriguing horror movie like I did.