I love a good moody mind-bender movie. Whether it’s horror or drama or just mystery, I love trying to figure out the why and how before the protag does. And if I can’t figure it out before the movie reveals the truth, I will slowly golf-clap in appreciate. A Cure for Wellness managed to keep me guessing up to the end because I couldn’t quite put together how eels and water and Dane DeHaan’s palor all fit together. But even though Cure fooled me, it didn’t get a golf clap from me, and it’s all because of one little problem that I couldn’t look past.
You have to appreciate the lengths some writers go through to create circumstances in which a character can investigate a mystery without being too much a part of it. Usually, it’s by making the character some kind of authority figure. In Shutter Island, Leo is put into the role of an investigator, which allows him “free reign” to figure out the mystery. In Cure, the protag visits a facility and, through some series of events, ends up having to stay there for an extended period. (The incident that allows his stay to happen is also a sore storytelling point for me, but another time…)
At the point the protag Lockhart is “admitted” to the facility, I can forgive the antag for thinking that if he just starts Lockhart on the treatment, everything will be fine. But, he takes no extra precaution whatsoever to ensure Lockhart doesn’t go snooping around. At one point in the movie, the antag pointedly says, Every time I run into you, you’re somewhere you’re not supposed to be or somesuch. Well no shit, Lucius. You didn’t confine him to quarters or anything; you just gave him a glass of water and sent him on his way.
And that’s my problem.
Consistently throughout the movie, Lockhart is seemingly free to do whatever. Is no one watching him? I would think, as precious as the project is, that Lucius would at least sit an orderly outside Lockhart’s door. But no. Door’s open, man. Just go for a walk. Wouldn’t want to waste time showing his ingenious escapes from his room or the resulting tension of making discoveries while people are closing in on him.
This bothers me because I think it was a plot decision to allow Lockhart free reign, and not one that fit in with the character of Lucius who clearly knows what is at stake.
If it weren’t for that one sticking point, I’d almost forgive the other unexplained aspects of the movie, how the residents were controlled, the relationship between the facility and the town, or how much the driver was in on it.
If that kind of stuff doesn’t bother you, or if you like octogenarian nudity, then this movie’s totally for you.