A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that A Cure for Wellness is a bizarre thriller with some horror and supernatural overtones from director Gore Verbinski (the Pirates of the Caribbean movies). It's frequently violent (often with blood/gore) and very disturbing/unsettling. Characters fight and are impaled with blunt objects and burned with steam. There's a brutal car crash, a suffering deer (it's impaled by a hunk of metal), a sick cow that's sliced open, and other gross, scary images. Plus, a young woman is held captive and forced to marry, with the threat of forced consummation. A man tears a woman's clothes off and touches her between the legs, and another man masturbates (mostly implied) when another woman removes her top. Naked breasts and bottoms are shown. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," and "p---y." Smoking and drinking are shown, mainly in a social context.
What's the story?
In A CURE FOR WELLNESS, young Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) has received an amazing promotion, but his new job comes with one condition. He must travel to a "wellness center" in the Swiss Alps and retrieve a missing former CEO to finalize some important paperwork. Lockhart gets there but discovers his task won't be so simple. Then, while leaving, his car crashes, and he wakes up back in the clinic with his leg in a cast. The doctor in charge (Jason Isaacs) feels Lockhart needs treatment and wishes to keep him there. So Lockhart starts investigating the clinic; he meets a strange young girl, Hannah (Mia Goth), and notices some very peculiar, even frightening things going on. There are stories of the clinic's previous inhabitants and forbidden rooms, and then there's that unsettling noise coming from the toilet tank...
Is it any good?
Cinematically ambitious and impeccably designed, this freaky thriller is often exciting and intriguing, but viewers may find themselves wishing they could unsee certain disturbing images. Director Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean, etc.) is a showman above all, but he has ventured into the grotesque (Rango) before, as well as into more purposeful movies (The Weather Man). With A Cure for Wellness, he seems to be trying all of it at once.
The movie's bizarre scenario offers no end of striking, mesmerizing images for Verbinski to capture -- as well as a cavernous, clinical, gothic set design, and a creepy, powerful sound design. At times the movie almost sneaks close to greatness. But there's little discipline; the really horrifying stuff mixes uneasily with the beautiful stuff, and it goes too far. Still, DeHaan is as appealing as ever, and he seems game for anything. He gives the movie a rooting interest and, finally, helps it recover.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about A Cure for Wellness' violent, disturbing imagery. How did the movie leave you feeling? What made it unsettling? Which scenes/images seemed necessary to the story, and which didn't?
Is the movie scary? What about it makes it feel like a horror movie?
What is the movie's attitude toward its female characters? How are they treated compared to the men?
What role does sex play in the story? How is it depicted? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
What does the main character learn over the course of the story? Does he remain faithful to his job and his task? If not, what are his new goals?
- In theaters: February 17, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: June 6, 2017
- Cast: Jason Isaacs, Dane DeHaan, Mia Goth
- Director: Gore Verbinski
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 146 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: disturbing violent content and images, sexual content including an assault, graphic nudity, and language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.