A Cure For Wellness- A Gothic Spectacular

maxresdefault

Visionary director, Gore Verbinski is back with his first horror film since The Ring. 2017’s A Cure for Wellness blends Verbinski’s meticulous attention to detail with elements from gothic and weird fiction. The resulting film contains a few flaws, but overall is a beautiful and unique cinematic experience.

A Cure for Wellness follows ruthless young businessman, Lockhart (Dane DeHaan), on his mission to Switzerland to convince his company’s head to return to his life in New York. Lockhart is the kind of guy who will do anything to achieve a goal, and he isn’t afraid to push people around in order to get what he wants. His arrogance leads him to believe that retrieving his boss will be a simple task, but he quickly discovers the sanitarium is hiding secrets in every corner, most of them related to the water.

NE27Jkd74Nv849_2_b.jpg

From a technical perspective, A Cure For Wellness is a feast for the eyes. Verbinski’s clear understanding of visual storytelling, creates a tense atmosphere of foreboding that is present in every scene. Whether the camera is following the dizzying movements of a group of white robed dancers, or showing a static image reflected in the eye of an animal bust, there is a grandness created within the frame. His indulgent style is an excellent fit with the dramatic storyline.

As for the story itself, there’s a bit of everything for all types horror fans. Fans of gothic horror will be attracted to the old buildings, incestuous relationships, and the forbidden romance. Those more drawn to Lovecraftian themes will enjoy the slimy creatures, the body horror, and the overall sense of individual oppression by the seemingly larger than life institution.

thumbnail_25048.jpg

The mystery behind the water in A Cure For Wellness is compelling, but a bit predictable. Chances are, most viewers will figure out what’s going on, pretty fast. That doesn’t make the film less enjoyable, just don’t expect to be shocked. It’s also a little on the long side, but because Lockhart is learning more and more with each scene, it doesn’t seem slow or boring. However, it might upon repeat viewings.

The film is at its very best when it relies on the creepiness of the characters and the cult-like mindset of the institution. The weird water based treatments, the polite but stiff staff, and the zombified patients in white are what makes the movie so spine chilling.

2774024590e73d66236acc3a3b9ea2015d075455.jpg

The film is at its worst when ventures beyond the atmospheric and the psychological. The climax boils down to a physical fistfight between Lockhart and a character that basically transforms into Skeletor (No spoilers, here.). For a film that spent two hours being so thought provoking, it seems jarring and out of place for a high action scene to occur. For some this borderline comedic resolution may ruin the film. For others it’ll just seem like a sizeable bump in the road.

A Cure For Wellness is likely to be on many top 10 lists for 2017. Even though, it contains some significant blemishes, it still possesses many brilliant qualities. Like Crimson Peak, its gothic aesthetic and precise performances more than make up for its basic storyline. Verbinski may not have created a genre masterpiece, but A Cure For Wellness still way exceeds most studio horror productions.

Advertisements

Lola’s Top 5 Episodes of The Twilight Zone

It’s a tradition for the SyFy channel to air a marathon of The Twilight Zone every New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. I thought, what better time to countdown my own favorite episodes of Rod Serling’s classic show. I imagine some may be surprised by my picks. Most of my favorite episodes fall into the psychological horror category, and they’re not necessarily the most popular of episodes. However, these are the ones that I believe are the most bone-chilling, the most unsettling. Bottom line, these are the episodes that give me the creeps. Enjoy!

zone hitch.jpg

5. The Hitch-Hiker

I love driving alone in the middle of nowhere. There’s this feeling that anything could happen at any time. It feels a little dangerous, and a tad thrilling. Add in a mysterious stranger lurking on the side of a desolate highway, and you’ve got yourself a situation that is ripe with horror potential. The Hitch-Hiker isn’t especially groundbreaking with its plot twist. However the setting and imagery is darkly poetic, and the lead character’s terror is palpable.

24-masks-twilight-zone.w529.h352.jpg

4. The Masks

I think I love this episode so much, because I just love masks. Masks fall into that wonderfully wacky territory of the uncanny. A mask is an expression of our inner selves. It’s us in the most wild, expressionist way. At the same time, masks are used to hide identity and shield the truth that’s beneath. All of this symbolism, is at the heart of this episode. Let’s just say our protagonist gets his revenge, in the best way possible.

60153899.jpg

3.  Perchance to Dream

Dreams are one of the most bizarre, confusing parts of life. There’s so much that we don’t know yet about dreams, so it makes sense that The Twilight Zone would want to tackle this topic. In Perchance to Dream, a horrified man is driven to seek therapy, after a series of dreams in which a beautiful woman is trying to kill him. Unfortunately for him, his dreams are bleeding over into his waking life. This is a super surreal episode, complete with a scene at a carnival. Picture Freddy Krueger as a sexy lady, and you’ve got Perchance to Dream.

28.png

2. The After Hours

I like The After Hours so much that I based my short film, Plastic Bodies on it. There’s something undeniably frightening about mannequins. Mannequins are human, yet not human. They are crude representations of us composed of hollow artificial materials, and disguised in the latest fashions. Now imagine these uncanny monsters were after you. Imagine, that the world as you know it, is not the true reality. That’s what our heroine is up against. This is a theme that The Twilight Zone covered many times, but never with as much finesse as in The After Hours.

cm-capture-3.jpg

1. Mirror Image

I’ve always had a fascination with dopplegangers. There’s something petrifying about the notion that there’s a sinister double of you wandering around. When I was a child, I had a dream about my doppleganger, and it still freaks me out today. In Mirror Image, the protagonist must come to terms with the possibility that she has a look-alike wandering around, or she’s losing her grip on reality. Perhaps the worst enemy you can have, is yourself?

TV Live- Twilight Zone Meets Theater

tv-live-for-web

All photos by Adam Neubauer

Imagine a strange and horrifying world. In this universe, time can be bent, the dead can return, and irony reigns supreme. Here, characters find themselves at a crossroads between the mundane and the downright bizarre. No, it’s not The Twilight Zone. It’s TV Live.

TV Live is a short evening of mini plays reminiscent of The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Night Gallery, and Tales From the Darkside. Each story is introduced by a Rod Serling type character played by Michele Danyn.

The first play follows a young nurse (Bonnyjean Hoffert) as she attempts to help a patient with multiple personalities. As she assists a sweet  young patient, she must also face his killer persona (both played by Tucker Matthews). Always waiting near by is lobotomy happy doctor (Mark Motyl). Written by Andy Shultz and directed by Adam Neubauer, the piece is a creative tribute to the asylum based thrillers of the 60s like Shock Corridor.

dsc-0231_orig

The next segment, written by Steven Alloway and directed by JC Gafford  concerns time travel, romance, and betrayal. The story revolves around  a young actress (Katie Grace Hansen) playing a role on a sci-fi television show. It quickly becomes apparent that it’s more than just a role. She must unravel her feelings for her showrunner/former lover (Sam Horrilleno) and also deal with her wacky costar (David Kaufman). While I was entranced by the plot, I didn’t feel the performances did the writing justice. I commend all three actors for putting forth an honorable effort, but the emotions didn’t seem to be there.

dsc-0027_orig

The third and strongest piece of the night is a bittersweet tale by Caroline Muniak and directed by Sebastian Munoz. This testament to everlasting love centers on a woman (Sherry Michaels) struggling with Dementia or Alzheimer’s. Her husband (Tom Jones) and his younger self (Nathan Pellow) lend all of their support. I won’t spoil it for you, but the ending sure tugs on the heartstrings in an honest, non Hallmark Channel way. All three actors are outstanding. It’s their performances that allow this piece to have such a heavy impact.

dsc-0135_orig

The concluding play amps up the tension, by placing two criminals (Sasha Snow and Ali Graba) and their hostage (Skip Pipo) in a bank vault. Throw in two guns and some personal secrets and the situation turns ugly fast. This story, written by Adam Neubauer, and directed by James R. Eschom has a decent premise. However, the specific details of the plot aren’t made clear, which causes this thriller to fall flat. Without context, it’s difficult for me to feel invested in the relationships of these three characters. I’d almost like to see this story remade in a longer format to allow more time for things to develop.

dsc-0137_orig

TV Live is a great ride for those who love classic episodic sci-fi. While, the show may not be completely even in quality, it’s never dull. I could tell that all involved brought grand amounts of care to create this endeavor. I imagine Rod Serling himself would be proud. Audiences have one more Sunday to catch TV Live in its current form. After that, the show will return with an all new show in the same format. For times and tickets, readers should visit fonprods.tix.com/schedule.aspx.