Horror thriller A Cure for Wellness Mount Verbinski is one of the most incomprehensible films of 2017. On the one hand, this is a visually high-quality thriller, the prototype of which was undoubtedly Shutter Island. As noted in other articles on this topic: the similarity of Lockhart’s hero with the hero Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) was not noticed only by the lazy. On the other hand, this is a completely direct and almost screaming film about what a bad society of consumption surrounds us every day. Straightforward and unprincipled.
It is also worth noting that many critics criticized this picture for its obvious imagery and the use of overly explicit artistic elements. But the film itself does not even try to seem like something else. This is a classic almost noir thriller set in an old estate and centered around a single protagonist who is promised strange and even dangerous adventures.
The plot of the film A Cure for Wellness
The plot of the film, as described above, revolves around an employee of Lockhart’s financial company (full name unknown), played by Dane DeHaan. Lockhart is a man ruled by logic and reason, firmly entrenched in the modern world. Dehaan plays a heartless businessman tasked with finding his CEO Pembroke. Pembroke is now in Switzerland, in a sanatorium, is improving his health and is not going to come back at all, but the main character does not know about it. He heads towards the picturesque landscape of Switzerland, and when he arrives, the taxi driver tells him that most patients do not return from there.
During our first meeting with Pembroke, we begin to see how the main idea of the film is revealed. Verbinski’s use of themed scores, super-powerful sound effects and imagery sets a very intimidating tone. But at its core, A Cure for Wellness is a story about beliefs, religious ideologies, consumerism, control and manipulation.
When Lockhart meets Pembroke in a hot hot tub at the clinic, Pembroke descends into a steaming black puddle with a black altar at the head of the pool. At this point, we are already attracted by the satanic images, especially if we consider the story of the satanic rituals of the medieval baron (owner of the estate), presented as the backstory of the film. However, if we look at this clinic as a cult offering health and salvation in exchange for control and manipulation, then its entire storyline will take on a clearer meaning.
Pembroke plunges into a pool after telling Lockhart about his reasons for leaving New York and that he hasn’t “recovered” yet. He also says that all the patients of the sanatorium are looking for some kind of medicine. Pembroke “baptizes” himself in this pool, fully embracing the myths about the hospital and warning Lockhart against all that the modern world has to offer.
What does acne mean in the movie A Cure for Wellness
But it seems that it is the acne that attracts the most attention of the viewer. Acne is paramount and ties it all together topically. They symbolize elements that we cannot control. They are here to remind the audience of the “unpredictability of the situation and the gray lines of life.” However, it would not be superfluous to compare eels with the embodiment of various, not always safe ideologies, often religious ones, which can often threaten our measured life.
Meaning of the film A Cure for Wellness
At some point at the beginning of the film, Lockhart gets into a container that is teeming with eels and almost drowns because of this. Then we learn that eels are the key to immortality. And isn’t that what many religions promise? Heaven, hell and life after death. By consuming acne, patients hope for a cure, but they never get it, because instead they are part of the recipe for “immortality.” Eels kill them. In this case, faith, the hope of healing, is distorted to manipulate and control. The idea of using faith as a path to power is not new. While man desired salvation, there were those who profited from this fear and need, sometimes through cults or simply pretending to be true believers.
There is one violent scene in the film that confirms the whole idea of eels as beliefs and ideologies. In it, Lockhart, having learned part of the horrific truth about the hospital and the sinister conspiracy, is captured and sent to a blood transfusion room. A long tube is inserted into his throat, and then a can of eels is pushed into it. There we see Lockhart, who is literally shoved into the throat of the distraught head physician and his sanatorium.
At one point, we see hospital staff dancing in fluttering white robes – literally a flock of followers helping sick patients die. In another scene, Lockhart tries to show patients that they are not cured, but pay to get sick, and the Baron and all the medical staff are literally sucking all the life force out of them. Instead of seeing the truth, they lash out at Lockhart in protest.
Try telling someone that their beliefs are not real and see where that leads.
A Cure for Wellness – Video Review of the Film & Explanation of the Ending
Explanation of A Cure for Wellness ending
Lockhart eventually escapes. He has a goal, and he manages to burn the hellish sanatorium to the ground. But employees of the New York firm find Lockhart and demand that he return. He refuses this offer. Although he saw the hospital as it was, he still understands that returning to his modern life is not the answer either. As the film repeats many times: “You can’t help but see the truth.”
The “cure for well-being” cannot be taken objectively. After all, only one interpretation of it can lead to a dozen more. The perception of the film as an allegory of reason versus faith and the compulsion to adapt other people’s beliefs is not an exaggeration. But this is just another interpretation. Regardless of whether the film is judged good or bad by critics, Verbinski has created a brilliant puzzle game with gorgeous visuals and horror elements to stir the mind.