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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

A CURE FOR WELLNESS -- Blu-ray/DVD Review by Porfle

Every once in a while a movie comes along that you can just delve into, like a pool of water, and float around in for awhile.  A CURE FOR WELLNESS (20th Century Fox, 2017) has a lot to do with water, with its theraputic baths, isolation tanks, humid steam rooms, and dark, murky depths creepy-crawling with slithering eels and even more horrific things.  After delving into this inky nightmare, you may come out feeling a little waterlogged. 

The setting is a sprawling mountainside "wellness retreat" in Austria where people go for the waters, but rarely come back.  (We discover later that it has a particularly sordid past.)  Pembroke has fled there to escape prosecution in a big Wall Street scam, so ambitious junior exec Lockhart (Dane DeHaan, CHRONICLE, LAWLESS), himself under threat of prison time, has been sent to retrieve the older man in order for him to serve as the company's official scapegoat. 

When we meet him, we see that young Lockhart is just a hair's breadth away from forever losing his own soul to his work. A shred of decency still surfaces from time to time, as when he visits his ailing mother in a nursing home or dwells on the memory of the day his father, himself mired in a similar scandal, committed suicide before his eyes. 

He's all business when the hospital staff give him the runaround about Pembroke, yet a shocking accident leaves him stunned, confused, and helpless, his broken leg encased in a cast and his fate in the hands of quiet but firmly authoritative Dr. Volmer (Jason Isaacs). 

Barely mobile on a pair of crutches, a woozy Lockhart finally manages to locate Pembroke but the mystery of Dr. Volmer and the wellness center has only begun to draw him inexorably into a nightmare of horror that will reach epic proportions. 

As Lockhart, Dane DeHaan carries on the troubled, introspective persona that worked so well in CHRONICLE but with an added assertiveness which helps him survive the series of traumatic events to come.  Jason Isaacs, whose range extends from strutting martinet (SOLDIER) to manly good-guy type ("Case Histories"), flexes his talents as the outwardly calm, vaguely sinister Dr. Volmer.

Also on hand is the aptly-named Mia Goth (EVEREST, THE SURVIVALIST) as Hannah, the clinic's only young patient, who fascinates Lockhart with a beauty and a demeanor which are both strangely ethereal.  Unable to recall her own past and seemingly out of place in her own time, she presents Lockhart with an added incentive to get to the bottom of the ghastly events taking place in the dungeon-like bowels of the retreat where patients are taken, never to return.

I'm loathe to reveal more, save to say that A CURE FOR WELLNESS is like an intoxicating therapeutic bath in undiluted Goth that immerses the viewer in a tantalizing mystery wrapped in surrealism, horror, and even an element or two of the classic monster movie. 

All of which is presented by director Gore Verbinski (THE RING, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, THE LONE RANGER) in visual terms so imaginative and cinematically splendid that almost every shot could qualify as an entry in an avant-garde photography competition. 

The wellness clinic setting alone is a marvel of production design with its retro, late 19th/early-20th-century look and hissing, sweating, almost steampunk iron-and-rivets technology cloaked beneath the outer beauty of the colorful mountainside. 

Names such as David Lynch, Tim Burton, Stanley Kubrick, and others kept going through my mind as I watched, taking much pleasure in the visuals even as the story recalls hints of Stoker, Lovecraft, and Poe. 

Indeed, Lockhart's arrival at the wellness center early in the film is similar to Renfield entering Dracula's castle in DRACULA.  Both are men on a mission who arrive sane, and then, after encountering vampires in either the figurative or literal sense, find themselves inescapably lost in a hellish madness.  Both films are equally fun to watch, but A CURE FOR WELLNESS is like a darkly scenic rollercoaster ride through a vast carnival spook house. 

Digital HD, Blu-ray & DVD Special Features Include
.    Deleted Sequence: “It’s Wonderful Here”
.    Meditations
.    Water is the Cure
.    Air is the Cure
.    Earth is the Cure
.    The Score
.    Trailers
.    Theatrical trailer
.    Red Band trailer
.    International trailer
.    Digital download

A CURE FOR WELLNESS Disc Specifications
Street Date:         June 6, 2017
Prebook Date:    May 3, 2017
Screen Format:     Widescreen 16:9 (1.78:1)
Audio:         English 7.1 DTS-HD-MA / Spanish 5.1 DD / French 5.1 DD (Blu-ray)
English 5.1 DD / Spanish 2.0 Surround DD / French 2.0 Surround DD (DVD)
Subtitles:        English / French / Spanish (Blu-ray & DVD)
Total Run Time:    Approximately 146 minutes
Rating:        R
Closed Captioned:     Yes

Buy it at
Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Download

Watch the Trailer:


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