A Cure For Wellness
Cary, NC – Director Gore Verbinski (The Ring, Pirates of the Carribean) returns to the horror genre with A Cure For Wellness. The film is filled with atmosphere and terrifying imagery, and while it can’t quite stick the landing, credit must be given for Verbinski trying something so daring and dark on a big studio level.
Dane DeHaan (The Amazing Spider-man 2, Chronicle) is a young hotshot Wall Street broker tasked by his firm to bring their CEO back from a wellness center in the Swiss Alps. As you can imagine, thing do not go well. DeHaan has been on the cusp of a breakout for a while now. The young actor has a unique look and an instant darkness about him, fitting the film’s aesthetics nicely. It’s also clear that the guy is a trooper, because the things he goes through in Wellness are truly the stuff of nightmares.
Jason Isaacs and Mia Goth help add to the mystery nicely. Goth is a relative newcomer, but extremely effective as a patient DeHaan is drawn to. There is an other-worldly quality to Goth, and mixed with the startling imagery of the movie, I’m hopeful she can pop up in other horror films with just as much success.
Beautiful And Scary
Verbinski really swung for the fences here. The cinematography is gorgeous and frightening all at once, and the tone is filled with dread. It’s all too rare where we get big budget R-rated horror, but thanks to the success of the Pirates of the Carribean films, Verbinski has chosen to use his clout to make unique and exciting films like this.
The only gripe I really have about A Cure For Wellness is that for as good a job as it does setting up the mystery and atmosphere, the conclusion can’t really live up to what comes before. The film goes a little action heavy in its last minutes, and while it’s not enough to derail the entire film, it’s disappointing especially since the rest of the film is so odd and scary.
Horror Fans Will Be Pleased
A Cure For Wellness is not for everyone. Filled with horror imagery and soaked in dread, the film will most likely only appeal to horror fans. But if that is something that interests you, as it does me, then Wellness is definitely worth checking out.
Cary, NC – Paul Verhoeven is renowned for making very strange, subversive movies that manage to be big names that, while not always popular, definitely get talked about. And in Elle, Verhoeven may go too far for most audiences but creates one of his best works.
Elle is playing this weekend at The Cary Theater.
You May Get Squeamish
The story of Elle is pretty straightforward, at least on paper. A high-society businesswoman named Michèle, played by Isabelle Huppert (The Piano Teacher, Amour), is assaulted and then plots her violent revenge. The approach Verhoeven takes is the key here. Elle‘s tone is always off-kilter, with Huppert playing the Michèle with an understated humor and cracking jokes as she shops for weapons to chats with her ex-husband.
Verhoeven is known for being subversive, from Basic Instinct to Showgirls to RoboCop to Starship Troopers and beyond. And here, he subverts the voyeurism that accompanies so many movies about sexual assault and violence toward women by leaning into the horror of it all. The attack and its psychological damage is never treated lightly, although Huppert’s revenge gets its own wink to the audience.
As the film takes on Verhoeven’s touch, you can see why he won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. Michèle confides in and is surrounded by lots of odd people, from her son who is constantly under siege from his girlfriend, her ex-husband who is trying to restart his life, coworkers who hate and resent her and a very pensive cat.
There is little in the way of mystery in Elle as Michèle tries to find her attacker. You figure that much out pretty quickly. The tension comes from now Michèle balances this quest for revenge with all the strange people and how they all interact. It causes just as many laughs as it does awkward and uncomfortable silences.
Any film with a good deal of realistic violence is going to turn off a chunk of filmgoers but if you are up for it, Elle is a fantastic and dizzying movie experience. It’s a testament to just how good Verhoeven is as a director that he is still making such quality work.
Elle is playing at The Cary Theater this weekend, at 7 and 9:30 PM on Thursday, February 23 and 2 PM on Saturday, February 25, 2017.