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'A Cure for Wellness' Review: F*ck Off Verbinski, You Talentless Hack

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Film | February 20, 2017 |

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Film | February 20, 2017 |

First off, a warning, A Cure for Wellness is NOT a low budget hipster indie film about finding oneself (probably in New York City), despite the title. It turns out that I somehow managed to unconsciously avoid everything about this movie even while googling to find movie times and all that. It’s actually just an overly long CGI dump shitastrophe of a horror movie brought to you by the same mind that inflicted three fucking Pirates of the Caribbean movies on this suffering world.

But don’t worry, despite having an orders of magnitude greater than expected budget and an entirely different genre, Gore Verbenski’s patented direction ensures that it is just as insufferable as the movie I expected, if differently insufferable.

Dane DeHaan, the kind of permanently bug-eyed poor man’s Anton Yelchin, who I most recognize from being the 37th iteration of Green Goblin in the last decade, plays one of those random movie Wall Street dudes. You know, workaholic, one percenter, has his assistant pick a gift for his mother because he’s, like, way too intense making money through loopholes and all that. Will this be a movie about his redemption? Nope, that would take actual plot or nuance, and who needs that when you’ve got millions of dollars of CGI splashed all over the screen.

So the partners send him to some health spa over in Europe to pick up the former boss guy who went into hiding there, so they can set him up to take the fall for shenanigans. Or something. Trust me, it doesn’t matter. Nothing that happens matters. My god, is this film actually a work of unrecognized nihilistic genius?


Big castle, standard creepy fare plagiarized from thirty other movies. Jason Isaacs is there half-heartedly playing Lucius Malfoy but as a doctor and without the swag platinum hair. It’s a sanatorium, none of the patients who go in ever leave, the townfolk warn you from going in, and there are the obligatory pale creepy girls saying odd things to make sure that you realize that this is absolutely not a facility that is run in accordance with any government regulations.

From there, the rest of the movie goes full paint by numbers. For two and a half mind-melting hours. This is the sort of movie that would feel long at 90 minutes, but there was just so much pointlessness that couldn’t possibly be left on the cutting room floor. I’m a fan of insisting that stories are about the journey as much as the destination, and so don’t feel compelled to argue that predictable is the same as boring. But this movie is just banally uncreative and unoriginal, droning on and on with an exhaustingly tired plot.

Would you guess that Dr. Malfoy ends up actually being evil?


Would you guess that the boss that Green Goblin’s sent to retrieve doesn’t want to leave, because he’s so inexplicably and disturbingly happy?


Would you guess that events are contrived to make Green Goblin a patient too?


Would you guess that there is practically a montage of nonsensical creepy old-timey treatments that are indistinguishable from torture?


Would you guess that basically all of them involve eels?

YOU GET A — no wait, you don’t get anything for that because it’s just freaking weird. So many eels. Eels in bathtubs, eels in immersion tanks. Name a place, you get eels. I’m not sure why Verbinski is so drawn towards creatures that are basically limp dicks with teeth at one end, but maybe he should speak to a licensed professional about it instead of blowing studio money on it. Paging Doctor Freud, Doctor Sigmund Freud. I’m not sure when exactly I realized that I was just watching a shitty version of Shelter Island 2: Electric Eel Boogaloo but it was after I was bored out of my mind and before Malfoy’s attempted rape of his own teenage daughter.

Oh, should I have put spoiler tags around that? Fuck off Verbinski, you talentless hack.

Dr. Steven Lloyd Wilson is a hopeless romantic and the last scion of Norse warriors and the forbidden elder gods. His novel, ramblings, and assorted fictions coalesce at You can email him here.

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Steven Lloyd Wilson is the sci-fi and history editor. You can email him here or follow him on Twitter.