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Cure for Wellness, A


Stars: Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, Mia Goth, Adrian Schiller, Celia Imrie, Ivo Nandi, Harry Groener, Carl Lumbly, Ashok Mandanna

Director: Gore Verbinski

One part Polanski, one part Lindsay Anderson, and one part pure Hammer horror, this gargantuan Gorefest is also 100 per cent codswallop - although, given the film's content, eelswallop might be a better description.

There's a mad scientist, a spooky castle, a collection of grotesques, a hint of vampirism and the inevitable conflagration at the climax - what more could any horror aficionado want? Well, a shorter runtime for starters: the Hammer boys would have the story told in little more than half the time. We could also do without a script that thinks it's good, but contains a corpse-strewn chuckle at every corner.

Verbinski treats it like a stylish masterpiece, even though he - and co-scriper Justin Haythe - are stealing from a dozen different derivatives.

DeHaan is Lockhart, a (double-dealing) innocent abroad, sent to a chateau spa in the Swiss Alps to facilitate the return of an equally shady businessman (Groener) whose signature is vital to a merger deal. Right from the start, he's reminded that 'there's always been bad blood between the villagers and the people on the hill' (yes, there was a burning involved).

'You won't be coming back,' predicts his dying mother (Rebecca Street), but the brashly confident Lockhart sees little danger, even when welcomed by the ominously smooth Dr Volmer (Isaacs). Prevented from seeing the man he's come for, Lockhart attempts to return to the village for the night, but the car crashes and he finds himself back at 'the institute' with a broken leg.

Something is very wrong there and, as Lockhart should have realised earlier, it's in the water. The patients' teeth are falling out, and they're not getting better. He does learn that the villagers burnt the original castle down because of the experiments there. "There is terrible darkness here,' mutters clearly-doomed inmate Imrie. Indeed there is, plus a childlike girl (Goth, a fuller-lipped version of Hayley Mills) whom Lockhart fancies rescuing. 'No one ever leaves,' she warns him.

A getaway attempt does indeed fail, as we could have forecast, and Lockhart is soon back in the clutches of the bad old doctor. A manic staff ball at the end is nicely staged, but even this is a crib from Polanski's Dance of the Vampires.

David Quinlan

Germany/USA 2017. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox. Colour (unspecified).
146 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 1, Swearing 1.

Review date: 21 Feb 2017