After his breakout success with the US remake of The Ring in 2002, director Gore Verbinski has stayed away from the horror genre. Despite incorporating horror elements into some of his movies — as seen in the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy — Verbinski hasn't made another legit frightening film. Until now.
The director trumpeted his return to the horror genre with a collection of four strange viral ads dropping online for his upcoming movie A Cure for Wellness. And with the film's full trailer having just released, we visit a world that's overwhelmingly, strangely beautiful, while being creepy all at the same time.
Watch the trailer here:
First question: What the hell is up with those eels?
A Cure For Wellness
Verbinski's new movie is an original supernatural and psychological thriller — similar in tone to existential horror movies like Jacob's Ladder and Black Swan — that was scripted by Justin Haythe, who wrote the award-winning Revolutionary Road and Verbinski's take on The Lone Ranger.
Here's the plot synopsis for A Cure for Wellness:
An ambitious young executive is sent to retrieve his company's CEO from an idyllic but mysterious "wellness center" at a remote location in the Swiss Alps. He soon suspects that the spa's miraculous treatments are not what they seem.
Starring Dane DeHaan and Jason Isaacs, Mia Goth also makes an appearance as a longtime patient who is as yet unaware of the perils that await within the spa.
The Wellness Program
Before the release of the full trailer, four viral videos were unleashed in a bid to contrive the strange world and philosophy within A Cure for Wellness. Each teaser was framed as an in-universe ad from the movie's setting, promoting the spa's services and dark view of human life. Check them all out below.
Viral Ad No. 1: The Disease Of Human Nature
"But the truth can not be ignored. For only when we know what ails us can we hope to find a cure."
The first trailer may not feature any plot elements, but it does give us a glimpse at the suspicious nature of the wellness center. Here, a narrator questions the worth of human conquest and reflects on how empty personal achievements really are. To help humanity get rid of this vile "sickness inside us," the narrator promises a cure for anybody's hollow life.
The voice-over also promotes the spa's nihilistic view of human life and sees human struggle as a form of needless suffering that can be avoided. As peaceful and calming as the narrator's promises may be, there are a lot of other details that work to keep us in the dark.
Viral Ad No. 2: Sink To A Silent Death
"Accept the futility of your existence. It's okay. It is all part of the cure."
The second teaser for A Cure for Wellness is an instructional video that explains how any patient at the wellness center should peacefully meditate in water. The German accent solidifies the movie's European setting.
While the deceptively inviting narration starts out by talking in a soothing tone about the importance of water, it takes a turn for the unnerving when one realizes he is teaching us how to drown. Suicide is never directly mentioned, but the narrator's recommendation to let water enter your lungs and accept the end points toward killing one's self in the most peaceful way possible. Following the first trailer's themes, it seems that A Cure for Wellness takes place in a world where hopelessness is the norm that's being sold as a commodity and luxury service.
Viral Ad No. 3: Peace In Earth
"Let the dirt inside you free your soul. Return to a simpler state. Return to the dust. And finally... silence."
Following the instructional video motif, the third viral ad for A Cure for Wellness talks about how beautiful nature is. So beautiful in fact, that it's the perfect place to sink into and disappear forever.
The deceptively calming narration instructs viewers how to give up on life and lie down in a shallow grave, made especially for the guests of the spa. Though it promotes a slower death, the third viral ad talks about being buried alive as if it were the most relaxing indulgence ever conceived by man. Once again, there is an emphasis on the nihilistic view of human life and just how futile it is — which seems to be the recurring motif of A Cure for Wellness.
Viral Ad No. 4: Your Spirit Crashing Down
"Time and hope are running out. And that's OK."
Set against the backdrop of a beautiful, soaring skyline, the fourth instructional video talks about the fuel of life: air. For the narrator, the only way one could appreciate the importance and majesty of air is by flying, and subsequently falling.
Just like the video about meditating under water, this one instructs its viewers how to kill themselves without directly mentioning suicide. By falling from a great height to emulate flying, those who want to meditate with the help of air will be able to let go of everything in life as their bodies rush headlong to the Earth's surface. And as the narrator said, falling to your death is perfectly fine, since it's all part of the cure.
Despite how popular horror movies are, good psychological horror remains something of a rarity. Recent films like The Babadook and Goodnight Mommy garnered critical and popular praise, and their success proves viewers remain hungry for a good scare that takes place within one's own mind. Verbinski earned his horror credentials with The Ring, and seeing him make another horror movie is cause for celebration among the genre's fans.
Even with the trailer, almost everything about A Cure for Wellness is shrouded in mystery, yet Verbinski's return to the horror genus looks like a seductive and eerie tale about human nature's dark side. Not only is it a refreshingly original movie in a time filled with reboots and remakes, but A Cure for Wellness and its themes of life's waning value in an increasingly materialistic and dystopian world are timely in its own morbid way.
A Cure for Wellness is set for a February 17, 2017 release. What do you think about the movie, based on the trailer?