A Cure for Wellness

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
A Cure for Wellness Movie Poster Image
Unsettling, disturbing thriller has bold, striking visuals.
  • R
  • 2017
  • 146 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 17+
Based on 8 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive messages

Many ideas to think about, but most of them highlight the darker side of human nature -- i.e. the tendency to blindly trust and follow without questioning, as well as the tendency to take advantage of those with weakness, plus the ambitious chasing of money and/or power. Also asks questions about living a life full of hard work: Is it unhealthy? Does it lead to happiness?

Positive role models & representations

The main character is interested in solving a sticky problem and hopefully saving a life or two in the process. He starts out as a selfish, materialistic character but eventually becomes interested in helping others and living a less materialistic life. He's also curious and smart.

Violence

Gross, disturbing, upsetting, scary imagery, often with gore/blood. A brutal car crash. Maimed, struggling deer (metal impaled in its body). Torture machines. Teeth-pulling, with blood. Punching, fighting, shovel impaled in head, burning with steam, falling down stairs. A bar fight. Bloody nose. Bloody hands. Sick cow sliced open. Dead goldfish. A young woman is held captive by an older man and forced to marry against her will, with the threat of forced consummation.

Sex

A man rips a woman's clothes off; her breasts are visible. He reaches and touches between her legs. A woman removes her top and a man masturbates (off screen/implied). Additional scenes of topless women, plus naked male and female bottoms. Brief, strong sexual language. Obscene sexual gesture. Threat of incest.

Language

Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "p---y," "d--k," "ass," "t-ts," "hell," "Jesus Christ."

Consumerism

Rolex watch, Nicorette gum.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

Character frantically tries to quit smoking by chewing Nicorette gum‎. Drinking beers in a bar. Gulping a glass of whisky. Characters smoke cigarettes.

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.

User Reviews

Adult Written byAndrew D. February 17, 2017

An unsettling, disturbing look into the human mind.

This film surprised me, not in a bad way, but in a rather good way. It was unpredictable, and the directorial work by Gore Verbinski is impeccable. Although the... Continue reading
Adult Written byMichael F. November 26, 2017
Teen, 14 years old Written byHarry.trax February 19, 2017

Unsettling, nosense thriller with really disturbing content!

In the first part of the film the story unravels slow but it's good and tempting. The second part is awful, nosense and really silly . Especially the final... Continue reading
Adult Written byStevie111 February 25, 2017

Good but not great thriller with explicit disturbing content

A Cure For Wellness is a fairly slow yet interesting thriller that goes all out with mature, disturbing content. It is creepy, intense, and has a fairly creativ... Continue reading

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?

Movie details

For kids who love scares

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