It’s difficult to tell whether Gore Verbinski’s tongue is planted firmly in his cheek throughout A Cure For Wellness but given the film’s running time of 2 hours and 26 minutes, such a feat would likely require the meddling of a twisted surgeon.
The film is true to its billing as a ‘Gothic’ thriller with the grand architecture of an old castle come wellness centre explored inventively through myriad camera angles and stark colourisation and a forboding score endlessly permeating the halls. And this is part of the problem. So much time and effort is spent on building suspense through the technical process that the film forgets to actually further the story on several occasions. The pace becomes too ponderous to sustain any tension it manages to build.
In its homage to Gothic horror A Cure For Wellness often strays into pastiche, with trope on a rope seemingly installed in every therapeutic bath. Yet if there is any wryness intended, it is submerged beneath solemn performances and a story which crawls from the sublime to the ridiculous.
There should be much to like in this wildly ambitious modern take on a genre which predates film and almost every aspect of the film-making process is exquisite. Yet the film amounts to less than the sum of its parts and is ultimately a hollow experience.