Movies: A Cure for Wellness

There's a genre of movie—I suppose it's a subgenre, really, of horror or thrillers or something—that I call "Hotel California" movies. These are movies in which a central character goes to a place, and spends the rest of the movie trying to get out of that place, but instead gets sucked further into whatever mystery is involved in said place. There are always a number of strange characters involved, and usually one really bad person (who might have a henchman or two). Almost always the main character's sanity comes into question, and there can be an ambiguous ending that leaves the audience wondering.

Done well, you get great movies like The Haunting (1963), though maybe we can thank Shirley Jackson's fabulous novella for that. But most movies in this genre are middling at best, laughable and predictable at worst.

Shutter Island is a Hotel California movie. Crimson Peak kind of is, too. And A Cure for Wellness fits this genre as well.

In this movie, Dane DeHaan plays Lockhart, an ambitious New Yorker sent by his (financial? hardly matters) firm to Germany to fetch back one of the CEOs from some weird health spa he's practically moved into. The spa is situated in the rebuilt remains of an old castle, so of course there is some crazy story to go with it. Two hundred years before, a baron married his sister because she was the only one "pure" enough for him to breed with. The sister got pregnant and the peasants hauled her out of the castle, cut the baby out of her, and tossed it in the river. They burned the sister alive and set fire to the castle. Cuz what else did they have to do back in those days? (Actually, the peasants were just angry because the baron was doing experiments on them and killing them all off.)

From there, the movie takes a predictable course. There is a strange young "patient" named Hannah who likes Lockhart because he's younger than all the usual old people who come to the wellness center. Lockhart, meanwhile, spirals into madness as he tries to (a) find the CEO and convince him to come back to New York, and (b) deal with snakes or eels or whatever is in the water.

Seriously, though, the movie could have been called Something in the Water. Cuz that sums it up pretty well.

A Cure for Wellness is pretty much exactly what I expected. You wouldn't have to know Gore Verbinski directed it to guess it was his work; it's just very Verbinski. Trigger warning, though, for people who might have trouble with rape scenes. And also: that's not how menstruation works. I mean, really, the water doesn't turn into the Red Sea when we get in the bathtub or shower, dude.

I'll admit a liking for these kinds of movies. If you like them, too, you'll probably find this one moderately diverting.

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