Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Things To Do

Review: 'A Cure for Wellness' so over the top, it's repellent

Growing up with Hammer Films and Poe a la Roger Corman makes me appreciate economy in gothic terror, a quality sorely missing from A Cure for Wellness. Alleged "visionary" director Gore Verbinski — earning that title in ads after The Lone Ranger — ignores their lessons at double feature running time.

A Cure for Wellness is a repellent curiosity, rich in atmosphere yet starved for dramatic morsels a sound plot might nourish. Two hours is a long time spent going nowhere until Verbinski and screenwriter Justin Haythe drag out an unpleasant conclusion. Everything about this movie trudges until springing wildly over-the-top, too late and/or too disturbing to matter.

Verbinski's opening scenes portend a better movie. A harried businessman dies of a heart attack in the office, knocking over a water cooler. Water is a central motif in A Cure for Wellness, for healing, bathing and human pickling. It may be why the dead businessman's successor (Dane DeHaan) will go insane.

DeHaan plays Lockhart, a wolf cub of Wall Street who'll go Shutter Island before movie's end. That's appropriate since DeHaan even before acting insane resembles Leonardo DiCaprio with malaria. Lockhart doesn't project the killer instinct of someone so ambitious or any reason for empathy. When a character so weakly written and portrayed is your hero, that's a problem.

Lockhart's mission is to recover an executive gone rogue named Pembroke, who visited a Swiss resort and refuses to return, like some corporate Col. Kurtz. He's needed in New York to sign off on a merger. Shouldn't take long. Lockhart breezes to the Alpine spa, tells the cabbie to leave the meter running and doesn't return.

So far, so sinister. The resort proves to be an inscrutable place where questions are asked but no answers are given. Any attempt to find Pembroke (Harry Groener) is denied or alibied. Just take in the healing waters, Lockhart is urged, relax with the other terry cloth zombies. His escape attempt results in a car accident, broken leg and spa recovery. Don't worry, his bosses will be informed. Yeah, right.

The resort is managed by Dr. Volmer (Jason Isaacs) a self-help snake oil salesman, except his specialty is eels. Seriously, a lot of eels. Bathtubs are filled with them, dunk tanks prowled by them and an orifice violated by them. Volmer is as slippery as one. His prime patient in a skeevy fashion is Hannah (Mia Goth) a hollow-eyed wisp with whom Lockhart will flirt.

Volmer's staff and patients are strong, silent types whose vigor in keeping Lockhart in line gets rough. Lockhart begins to understand why villagers down the mountain don't trust the resort, like Frankenstein's neighbors. Verbinski crams classic horror touchstones into A Cure for Wellness, expecting to improve upon them with sheer luridness.

All the elements of a Hammer/Corman bloodletting adventure are here and none of their brisk restraint. Those old thrillers were as erotically exploitative as their era allowed, not much more than bosoms and swoons. A Cure for Wellness wanders a more depraved corridor that isn't sexy, only a tasteless payoff after too long of a wait.

If Verbinski used only an hour to get to his final 30 minutes, it might not seem so lousy. He's too enraptured with Eve Stewart's production design of the resort, a plush dungeon that's sterile on the surface. Bojan Bazelli's camera prowls the grounds, aimed in provocative angles. A Cure for Wellness is simply too bloated for impact. The only fear it stirs is that of falling asleep.

Contact Steve Persall at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall.

Comments
Bill Cosby sentenced to 3 to 10 years for 2004 sex assault, is taken to jail without bail

Bill Cosby sentenced to 3 to 10 years for 2004 sex assault, is taken to jail without bail

NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Bill Cosby has been sentenced to three to 10 years in state prison for drugging and molesting a woman at his suburban Philadelphia home.Judge Steven O'Neill sentenced Cosby on Tuesday, five months after his conviction in the ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Why is ‘Hold My Hand’ an all-time classic? Darius Rucker and Lady Antebellum explain

Why is ‘Hold My Hand’ an all-time classic? Darius Rucker and Lady Antebellum explain

Here’s how Darius Rucker recalls the conversation with Lady Antebellum singer Charles Kelley. "I want you to do a Hootie song with us," Kelley told Rucker as they prepared for their joint summer tour. "All right. Which one do you want to do?"...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Louie Anderson talks ‘Baskets,’ parents, the darkness behind his comedy and his brush with #MeToo

Louie Anderson talks ‘Baskets,’ parents, the darkness behind his comedy and his brush with #MeToo

The most obvious good thing to come from the FX sitcom Baskets might be that it proved Louie Anderson could really act.Despite past roles in film (Coming to America) and TV (he co-created the Emmy-winning animated show Life With Louie), it was hard f...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Jack White saves house from ‘The Outsiders’

Jack White saves house from ‘The Outsiders’

Do you remember the 1983 movie The Outsiders? Sure, you do. This is an '80s blog. What you might not remember as much is the house from the movie, where the "Curtis brothers" in the film lived. Well, it turns out that house is still around in Tulsa, ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Andy Grammer talks podcasts, country songwriting, getting booed off stage and more

Andy Grammer talks podcasts, country songwriting, getting booed off stage and more

Andy Grammer will perform at the Ritz Ybor in Tampa on Friday.
Updated: 12 hours ago
Restaurant review: Elevage has made some smart changes to its restaurant and Lobby Bar menus

Restaurant review: Elevage has made some smart changes to its restaurant and Lobby Bar menus

Checking out the changes at Elevage, which opened five years ago as the first Bern's sibling to offer breakfast and lunch.
Published: 09/25/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sept. 26

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sept. 26

The Fantasticks!: The world’s longest running musical features the classic song, Try to Remember. Through Oct. 21. 7 p.m., Freefall Theatre, 6099 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $23-$50. (727) 498-5205; freefalltheatre.com.Tampa Bay Rays: vs. New York ...
Published: 09/25/18
Before Tampa show, comic Hari Kondabolu talks Apu, Colin Kaepernick, #MeToo and race in America

Before Tampa show, comic Hari Kondabolu talks Apu, Colin Kaepernick, #MeToo and race in America

Hari Kondabolu’s grandmother died this summer. He spent three weeks in India, saying goodbye and grieving with family. And even then, even at such a sorrowful time in his life, he couldn’t turn off the part of his brain that looks for jok...
Published: 09/25/18
Zesty Lemon Shrimp, and more quick bites to make for guests

Zesty Lemon Shrimp, and more quick bites to make for guests

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about hosting, and the dos and don’ts for ensuring everyone at your house, including you, has a great time. There are a lot of things that go into the gig beyond food. But all of those become a little easier if you’re a...
Published: 09/25/18

Sports on TV/radio for Tuesday, September 25

TODAYBaseballYankees at Rays7 p.m.Fox Sun; 620-AMMarlins at Nationals7 p.m.FSFPirates at Cubs8 p.m.MLBDodgers at Diamondbacks10 p.m.ESPNCollege soccerMen: Ohio State at Michigan7 p.m.ESPNUCollege volleyballBYU at Pepperdine9 p.m.ESPNUNHL preseasonBlu...
Published: 09/24/18