New trailer, footage rundown & Dane DeHaan interview for A Cure For Wellness

The latest film from director Gore Verbinski, A CURE FOR WELLNESS (new trailer above!), has some great potential to conjure up some genuine thrills, shocks, and mystery, given the claustrophobic setting, which is both bleak and beautiful at once. The trailers have revealed a compelling horror thriller that could go just about anywhere given that there's plenty of mystery involved. A few weeks ago, I had the chance to preview the first 35 minutes of the film, as well as chat with Verbinski (interview HERE) and star Dane DeHaan, who both are of the mind that they hope A CURE FOR WELLNESS will "fuck you up." Based on what I saw, that potential is very real. Check out my conversation with DeHaan below and a rundown of the first 35 minutes after that. If you're a fan of horror mysteries, not to mention Verbinski's precise style, then this is definitely a movie you'll want to check into next year.

35-Minute Preview breakdown:

The film opens on stark, bleak visuals of a city, looking very cold, lonely, and isolated. The shots are framed in such a way to show no real signs of life and make you feel trapped in these monstrosities. Lullaby music plays underneath, increasing the eerieness, before we cut to a middle-aged man working in an office, surrounded by computers, obviously working late ito teh night. He's obviously immersed in his tasks, but manages to break a way for a moment to shuffle through his mail. One letter sticks out, which has a wax seal of two eels crossing over. Before opening and reading, he is quickly distracted by the computer again and sets it down, suddenly getting chest pains. He gets up to grab some water (a major theme throughout the proceeding). On his mantle in his office we see pictures of him with his kids, a family man, living the dream. While getting water, he has chest pains again and keels over, presumably of a heart attack.

It's an almost on-the-nose scene, but it serves the greater purpose of the story, which we can estimate at this point is a commentary on how consumed we are by our work. This, too, is a theme that will carry throughout. We end the scene in a carefully framed shot (Verbinski is in top form here with his shot placement) that shows the now deceased man laying on the ground, surrounded by a cascade of computer screens, still blinking, still working.

Cut to a train moving toward mountain, a shot we've seen in the trailer. The style is clean and precise and it's something I've always dug about Verbinski. He doesn't waste shots (although, I guess you could argue over the PIRATES films if so inclined, but even those have some excellent visuals). We see Dane DeHaan on the train, tapping away on a computer, while talking on his cell, sounding every bit a cold and calculating business type, too busy for anything other than his work. Around him is food wrappers and papers, a mess he doesn't have time for. A conductor asks to see his ticket and then asks if he's there for business or pleasure. DeHaan answers, "Seriously?" 

DeHaan then looks over in the seat across from him to see a kid draw a devil on the condensation of the window. We also see that DeHaan has one of those was-seal letters as well. He picks it up and reads it, with V-O kicking in from the author of it, Roland Pembrooke We've heard this dialogue in the first trailer and it rattles off very much like a man that's had some sort of epiphany, nervous breakdown, or bout of madness (or some combination of it all).

"We are the only speciaes capable of self reflection. We build. We buy, we consume. We wrap ourselves in the illusion of material success. We cheat and deceive to get to achievement..."

As the V-O continues we see that DeHaan is a rising star at the company. He's seen moving into the corner office that was once inhabited by the man that died in the opening. The environment feels cold and soulless. Nobody in the office seems really happy with what they’re doing, putting on a false facade of success and achievement.

We learn that Pembrooke is one of the heads of the company DeHaan works for. He's called into a meeting with the other heads of the company, who allude to DeHaan having risen to the top by way of illegal activities and begin to threaten him with blackmail (One woman asks him something about whether he's ever had a 12" black cock up his ass, which is what she says awaits him in prison). DeHaan fires back that they would be just implicit in whatever wrongdoing he's done, so they change their tune to a deal: retrieve Pembrooke from a health spa in Switzerland that he's holed himself up in and they will promote him. He really has no choice or rather, doesn't have a better one, so he agrees. The interactions are very cold, almost robotic and it sets an interesting tone for the way everyone speaks in the film, which causes you to question the good/evil of everyone you encounter.

We next see DeHaan in a car, driving along a winding mountain, on his way to the Sanitarium in Switzerland. He's at his laptop, working, just as before, the local driver attempting small talk much to his annoyance. DeHaan is cold and unfeeling to everyone, like a heartless killer. With his icy stare, DeHaan embodies this type of role perfectly, too. The driver gives some expository information about the Sanitarium, which hints at much darker origins (and plays at the unraveling of a mystery that continues to build). The castle, it seems, was built on an ancient water reservoir and was burned down at one time, then rebuilt.

We cut to a flashback of DeHaan visiting his mom in a nursing home where she's painting little figurines. He seems genuinely concerned for her well-being and it's the first time we see any real emotion from him. There's also some crafty shots here, including one of his mom looking through a magnifying glass while painting. It creates an atmosphere of quirkiness and eerieness at the same time and plays with the idea of perspective, which seems to also be a recurring theme as things go on.

DeHaan finally makes it to the Sanitarium, which is in a castle on top of the mountain. Eels crossing heads (the same as the wax seal) are on the entry gate. Inside the Sanitarium we see a more lush landscape than we've seen yet in the film (which has been mostly cold and dark) Everyone is dressed in white enjoying leisurely activities, mostly older people. DeHaan goes to the front, telling the driver he'll be ready to go in 20 minutes. It's a show of his arrogance and brashness, not to mention his calculating demeanor. You just know he's being set up for a big fall. He talks to a very proper nurse (no one loses their temper or acts anything other than professional at the Sanitarium) who informs him that he's arrived just past visiting hours. DeHaan, undeterred asks to speak to a manager, to which the nurse complies politely.

DeHaan walks outside, trying to get a signal on his phone (again, another show of his ties to technology and work). Some of the patients inform him that he'll "never get a signal here". DeHaan walks out to the lawn where some folks are playing croquet. A ball goes sailing past him and he moves to grab it out of the weeds, discovering a water grate. He regards it mysteriously. There's something ominous about it.

DeHaan meets with one of the managers there, a doctor, who offers him some water as they discuss meeting with and taking away Mr. Pembrooke. DeHaan tries to be smooth and demanding at the same time, but ultimately they won't relent on visiting hours and tell him he'll have to come back the next day. DeHaan downs the glass of water as if it's the best he's ever had and the meeting is over, leaving an air of weirdness about the entire place.

DeHaan gets back in the car and asks to be taken to a hotel. As he’s eaving he sees a girl standing on the ledge of the castle, wearing a dress and facing outward, her eyes closed. He's mesmerized by what he sees and she remains there as they pull further and further away. Suddenly, we see a deer charging down the mountain toward the road and slams into the car, shattering the windshield and sending the car spiraling out of control, flipping and crashing. DeHaan is knocked out and there's a really trippy visual of the deer wrapped up in the windshield screen, attempting to hobble away from the crash before finally dying in place.

We then see DeHaan’s mom at the nursing home wake up briefly, startled and afraid, then die after having a series of quick cut visions (likely events to come later in the film). We then see DeHaan at the cremation of his mother, the only one in the room. He's asked if anyone else is coming to which he says there is no one else. It's unclear if this is a dream or if it's something that has already come to pass. Again, lots of mystery here.

Cut to DeHaan waking up in the Sanitarium. A blonde nurse is in his room, putting clothes in a dresser. We then see Jason Isaacs, sitting in his room. He explains to DeHaan that he runs the facitlity (in a very Swedish accent) and that DeHaan has been injured with a broken leg (a clean break, he says). He insists on DeHaan recovering and says that his bosses have been notified of his accident and want to make sure he's better before going back. At this point, you pretty much know he's trapped and that shit is about to get crazy. And if water being a factor in this wasn't already clear, Isaacs tells DeHaan:  “Make sure you drink plenty of water”

DeHaan gets out of bed. He sees that his watch is broken and he can’t call home. He looks out the window of his room (stark white and clean), seeing all the people in white roaming about in various states of activity. He also sees a man putting up a brick wall over the grate he discovered the previous day when recovering the croquet ball. Mystery heightens.

What is this place hiding, that’s the question.

DeHaan notices a small peck in the glass of water he just drank. He reaches in with his finger and plucks it out. It’s an organism of some type, like an insect wth a tail. He crushes it, but doesn't seem overly concerned. He then takes a tour around the place, seeing everyone in various forms of “treatmaent” with water. Water excercises, swimming, massages, etc. All the type of things you expect to see in a spa.

As he explores DeHaan happens upon a steam room area. The whole place is creepy as hell and as he turns one corner after another into the steam room, he is suddenly trapped in an empty room that then suddenly reveals another doorway. The farther he goes the crazier it gets. DeHaan is lost in it. Freaky. Claustraphobic. He sees a deer walking in the same area after some doorways open up, leading him to a man sitting there. Pembrooke. He walks up to him and we know that things are about to take another turn.


And, that's what we saw. The feeling that this preview left me with was eerieness and I found myself pulled into the mystery of just what the hell this Sanitarium really is and how crazy things are going to get from this point. I love the visual set-up that Verbinski has created and it feels like he's pulling a lot of themes from the planned BioShock movie he tried to get off the ground a while back. This definitely feels like a mind-trip kind of horror thriller and with a first act tease set-up, I'm absolutely curious to see how it plays out. Like any mystery thriller, the endgame and final reveals will dictate how well the film plays, but I can safely say that I need to see the rest of the film and look forward to it "fucking me up" as Verbinski has clearly and explicitly stated he hopes it does to all audiences.

A CURE FOR WELLNESS opens on February 17th, 2017

Source: JoBlo.com



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