Spoiler Warning: This article contains plot points for A Cure for Wellness to illustrate how scary (or not) this movie actually is. So, if you want to keep the fear factor sacred, do yourself a solid and slither out now.
If you're the kind of person who spends horror movies cowering behind the nearest cushion/dog/human, you're probably already wondering whether Gore Verbinki's latest offering, A Cure for Wellness, is the kind of scary movie that'll make you want to fold your face into itself in some sort of protection skin-blanket. Will it give you the full frontal fears? Will it stress you out to the point of no return? Or will it slide straight off you in an "eh, that wasn't so bad" shiver-free shrug?
Given that #ACureForWellness is rated R, you already know that this is a film that stores disturbing, violent, graphic content in its creepy clutches, and it's certainly not one to take the kids along to. But what do you actually need to prepare for? Below we'll do a run down of everything you need to know about this gothic horror and debate the question: How scary is A Cure for Wellness?
What's It Actually About?
Dane Deehan stars as an ambitious young executive, Lockhart, who's sent to fetch his company's CEO from a remote and idyllically located "wellness center." On arrival he's greeted by a sea of OAPs in white robes, lunching on the terrace and practicing Tai Chi on the lawn. Everything seems zen AF, even Volmer (Jason Isaacs) — the center's director — gives off the impression he's there to lull his wealthy clients back into a calm and healthy existence, until the quiet routine begins to scream that something isn't right.
Low and behold, the serene exterior is but a thin gauze for the center's nefarious plans — plans that explain why nobody ever leaves, why patients look sicker the longer they stay, and why Hannah (Mia Goth) is a "special case." Check out the trailer:
The further Lockhart falls down the rabbit hole, the more he unravels the spa's terrifying secrets, which test his sanity and his health.
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Is It A Horror Or A Thriller?
Given that this creepy outing has been plucked from the mind of the director who brought us The Ring, and considering the trailer's wriggling water, broken teeth and ominous warning from Celia Imrie, you'd expect that this movie would be firmly plonked within the horror genre. But it's not.
This is a psychological thriller, a movie that will get your blood pumping and your stress levels rising as you witness Lockhart frantically attempt to escape an isolation tank filled with eels, or being walloped with a spade by a maniac in a lab coat. Sure, there are horrifying moments, but these are mostly for their squirm-inducing unpleasantness than true terror. And, because film is presented in a fashion that makes it feel like a dream (albeit a crazy one), it takes the edge off there being any moments that properly get under your skin.
Think of it more like an (extremely) extended version of Black Mirror, if Charlie Brooker decided to deal with the topic of clean eating and chucked in some eels and demented doctors to amp it up.
What Are The Scariest Moments?
I would say that there are three scenes in the film that are truly uncomfortable to watch: The aforementioned scene in which Lockhart is trapped in an isolation tank with a bunch of eels, and two others that revolve around teeth. For fear of building this article into spoiler town, I'll just briefly describe the deal: Despite being forced to drink liter upon liter of water at the "wellness center" in order to "flush out the toxins," Lockhart discovers x-rays that suggest the clients are extremely dehydrated, and that is causing their teeth to fall out. He then realizes the same thing is happening to him, starts to wiggle one tooth and winds up pulling the whole thing out — nerve included.
The second toothy scene isn't as vommy as the first, but it still has retch potential. Let's just say it involves Lockhart strapped to a chair and a "doctor" taking a drill to his face. You see stuff shattering. It's not OK. It will make you feel uneasy. But it's not scary.
In short: if you're expecting A Cure for Wellness to deliver the same nightmare inducing punch as The Ring, it won't.
Did you find A Cure for Wellness scary?