Weird is okay but there is such a thing as too much weird and this one definitely went too far. It started off decent enough but it simply fell apart and became a chore to watch because of all the weirdness and the excessive run time. Some people loved this film but I unfortunately wasn’t one of them. (original review)
Synopsis: A Wall Street stockbroker travels to a remote location in the Swiss Alps to retrieve his company’s CEO from an idyllic but mysterious wellness center. He soon suspects that the miraculous treatments are not what they seem. His sanity is tested when he unravels the spa’s terrifying secrets and finds himself diagnosed with the same curious illness that keeps all of the guests there longing for a cure.
Starring: Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, and Mia Goth
Writer: Justin Haythe
Director: Gore Verbinski
Rating: 18A (Canada)/R (United States)
Running Time: 146mins
It was definitely nice to see director Gore Verbinski, mostly known for directing 3 of the 5 Pirates of the Caribbean films, doing something else with a psychological thriller. The story is about a New York City stockbroker named Lockhart (DeHaan) has to travel to a sanitarium near the Swiss Alps to retrieve his company’s CEO named Pembroke (Harry Groener) and as all the trailers have already given away, things weren’t as they seemed.
With a running time of almost 2.5 hours, it just became very tedious to watch, full of predictable twists and turns. The film could have easily been under 2 hours so instead of helping, the extra time hurts the film by stretching the plot to the point that it was easy to lose interest. Because of this extra time, the plot begins to fall apart, more so since it never really made much sense in the first place.
By the end, the film gets to the mystery involving the sanitarium, albeit barely, but the plot jumps all over the place, almost becoming something different near the end, which made it hard to follow and difficult to care about the story or the characters. What started off as getting Pembroke back to New York City became Lockhart trying to maintain his own sanity while attempting to expose the sanitarium for what it was.
What it did do right was its look. As Lockhart begins to lose his sanity, the film throws at us a series of disturbing imagery to convince us of the fact. These images were great to watch but became gratuitous after a while and lacked any payoff. The best part of the film was the cinematography. This gave the film a degree of immersion in making the sanitarium a character but the story wasn’t compelling enough.
The acting was okay but the best was surprisingly not DeHaan. He was okay but his constant confused look did not inspire excitement. His performance didn’t really stand out. Goth was okay as Hannah but she didn’t really do anything and her significance to the plot was never clearly explained. The best performance was Isaacs as the head of the sanitarium, Dr. Volmer. He was a great villain with great scenery-chewing presence, despite his motivations not being the clearest.
Overall, this was an overlong, hard to follow, mess of a film, with okay performances, and great cinematography which ultimately didn’t amount to anything after 2.5 hours.