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A Cure for Wellness is a 2017 horror film from Gore Verbinski. It stars Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, and Mia Goth. It was released on February 17, 2017.

A young NYC executive named Lockhart (DeHaan) must travel to the Swiss Alps to retrieve his company's CEO after he failed to return from an extended spa stay. Upon his arrival, Lockhart is forced to stay at the spa following a car accident, wherein he stumbles upon a sinister conspiracy stemming from a dark history involving the foundation upon which the spa was built.


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This film contains examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: This isn't the first movie with Dane DeHaan featuring scenes of teeth being pulled out. However, he's on the receiving end of it here. Even in the other film, he made it quick.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Hannah has some kind of developmental disorder, probably from the fact she's a byproduct of incest.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: The baron who owned the lands the wellness center was built on performed horrifying experiments on his peasants to cure his sister-wife's infertility. Turns out the baron is still alive and still performing the experiments.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: While dehydratation might contribute to gum disease which may degenerate into parodontitis, which may ultimately lead to loss of teeth, this last ailment is far from being the most prominent symptom of the condition.
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  • Animal Motif: Eels.
  • Anti-Hero: Lockheart starts off as a Nominal Hero, with his Jerkass demeanor and his selfish motivations to bring Pembroke back. However, once he starts becoming friends with Hannah and becomes a victim to the Spa's treatments, he undergoes some Character Development and becomes an Unscrupulous Hero by the end.
  • Attempted Rape: Volmer tries to rape Hannah and nearly succeeds before Lockhart intervenes.
  • Barefoot Loon: Hannah is perpetually barefoot.
  • Big Bad: Dr. Heinreich Volmer.
  • Body Horror: Such examples include Lockhart having his tooth drilled out, as well as Volmer/the baron's true face, which is more of a green, pulsating, disfigured mess.
  • Creepy Uncle: Dr. Volmer acts this way to Hannah who is also his daughter.
  • Crusty Caretaker: The caretaker at the spa usually speaks to Lockhart angrily in a foreign language. He also attempts to kill Lockhart in the climax, but Lockhart bludgeons him to death.
  • Depraved Dentist: One of the doctors qualifies.
  • Dirty Cop: One accomplice of Volmer is a police officer.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: The orderly operating the sensory deprivation chamber nearly causes Lockhart to drown because of this trope.
  • Driven to Suicide: Lockhart's father jumped off a bridge in front of him when he was a child.
  • Exploring the Evil Lair: A large part of the movie, and especially so when Lockhart explores the subterranean lake and Volmer's personal underground laboratory, which is replete in 19th century-style with beakers, dissected eels, and scientific notebooks. And a bed.
  • Facial Horror: What Volmer really looks like. His face looks like a significantly fleshier version of Skeltor's face looks like and keeps it hidden with mask-like duplicates he has preserved in his underground laboratory.
  • Fan Disservice: Throughout the entire film, from fat old people wandering around the steam baths to nearly-dead people floating in the water tanks. Hannah, who has been established as Lockhart's crush, is only seen naked in a bath of eels and during the attempted rape by Volmer.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Volmer is usually calm and proper, but he is really a vile psychopath, mad scientist, and incestuous rapist.
  • Gainax Ending: Volmer is defeated by Hannah and Lockheart and the center burns to the ground as patients continue doing their regular activities outside of the building/continue dancing oblivious to the doctors trying to put out the fire. Not long afterwards, The board of directors show up asking Lockheart what happened to Pembroke and why the facility is on fire. Instead of getting in the car with them, he rides away with Hannah while grinning insanely as the board tries to call him back.
  • Ghibli Hills: Most of the film is set amidst a picturesque mountain range.
  • Gothic Horror: A modern take on the genre, particularly drawing influence on Dracula with a young urban professional traveling to an imposing, Germanic castle where he encounters a monstrous immortal aristocrat who engages in a form of vampirism.
  • Gorn: Averted, actually. While there is definitely gruesome violence, a lot of the film's Squick factor comes from stuff that doesn't feature blood.
  • Handicapped Badass: Subverted. Lockhart confronts a troublemaker in the village bar, but after losing the element of surprise is swiftly knocked down. However,he apparently fairs better off-screen against a doctor and a couple of the male nurses, and is able to escape the dental torture he is being subjected to. His leg also turns out to be intact.
  • Healing Factor: Volmer can regenerate facial wounds in about a minute. Too bad it doesn't work when he gets a shovel to the face.
  • Healing Spring: The aquifer water is a horror movie take on the trope.
  • Hope Spot: Lockheart goes through several cruel ones during his stay.
    • The first happens when he goes to the police to tell them about the facility's experiments. At first, things seem like the cop believes him but then he sees a blue vial on a shelf, there by implying that the local police is fully consenting with Volmer and his schemes.
    • The second happens not long afterwards when trying to convince his fellow patients that they're not being cured as they've been led to believe. Some of them begin to rise up, only to begin mindlessly chant "I'm not well" and attack Lockheart.
  • Human Resources: The fate of the patients.
  • Immortality Immorality: A life extending elixir is derived from poisoning people with water containing the unrefined chemical, force-feeding them water with chemical-infused eels (waste matter and all), and subjecting them to what is basically a cylindrical mini-oven, capturing their sweat and the elixir it contains, now refined for safe consumption. After the process has worn out and dehydrated the subjects, their corpses are dumped in the eels' breeding ground.
  • Insistent Terminology: "I am not a patient."
  • The Igor: The Gardener. Also known as the Eel Feeder.
  • The Ingenue: Hannah.
  • Karma Houdini: Volmer dies but most of his equally-sadistic staff escape the fire unharmed.
  • Karmic Death: Volmer is killed by Hannah, whom he'd tried to rape moments earlier, and then has his body eaten by the same eels he'd been using on his patients.
  • Kindly Vet: A reasonably pleasant veterinarian works out of a garage in the village.
  • Light Is Not Good: The interior of the facility has light colors, and all the staff wear white.
  • Lovecraft Lite: There is a creepy sanitarium where the protagonist questions his sanity, and there is a recurring theme of water throughout the movie, but the antagonist turns out to be only slightly more durable than a normal human.
  • Mad Scientist: The original baron, and Volmer. They are one and the same.
  • Mind Control: Implied. Possibly the result of brain damage-induced suggestibility, a side effect of the unrefined chemical that Volmer is using the facility to process.
  • Moody Trailer Cover Song: The trailer used an ironic cover of The Ramones' iconic "I Wanna Be Sedated" by Mirel Wagner. The use of drugs and sedatives figures heavily in the movie.
  • Mountaintop Healthcare: Takes place at an isolated "wellness center" deep in the Swiss Alps. Incidentally, the film itself was actually filmed in a real sanatorium in Beelitz, itself notable for receiving Adolf Hitler as a patient during World War I!
  • No Name Given: We only know Lockhart by his last name.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Due to generations of animosity between the castle and the village, the local hooligans harass the chauffeur when he drives patients up the mountain. When he's off duty, they drink in the same bar together without incident.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Volmer looks around his mid-forties, but is actually north of 250 years old. The same goes for Hannah (~200 years) and, to a lesser extent, the rest of the facility's staff, most of whom are hinted to be in their 70s to 80s yet look around 30-40.
  • People Jars: The patients are subjected to regular immersion in tanks.
  • Perverted Sniffing: Volmer does this after he attempts to rape Hannah.
  • The Power of Love:
    • A possible explanation for how Lockhart is pulled out of his treatment-induced complacency at the end of the film; he'd been holding the ballerina figurine from his mother which he had gifted to Hannah, and which Hannah had returned to him earlier.
    • A more sinister variation appears when Volmer suggests that Hannah's first period was brought on by the arrival of Lockhart.
  • Properly Paranoid: The residents of the nearby village are distrustful of the facility.
  • Pure Is Not Good: Volmer has an obsession with purity.
  • Scenery Porn: And that's putting it lightly in terms of how pretty this movie looks. About a good chunk of it was near actual mountains, an abandoned castle and an actual sanitarium where Adolf Hitler was treated.
  • Shout-Out: An orderly is reading The Magic Mountain.
  • Slasher Smile: Lockheart gives a rather unsettling one in the film's final shot as he's seen bicycling away with Hannah while the institution burns to the ground and the board of directors try to call him back.
  • The Ophelia: Hannah; beautiful, naive and childlike, complete with a flowing dress and bare feet.
  • The Reveal: Volmer is the baron that lived in the castle that is now the spa. He impregnated his sister, who is the mother of Hannah.
  • The Tooth Hurts:
    • Throughout the movie, patients are shown to be missing teeth, brought on by severe dehydration. Eventually, this happens to Lockhart's right canine.
    • Later on, Volmer drills through Lockhart's right front tooth. Even worse, it isn't a Gory Discretion Shot.
  • Token Good Teammate: The driver is the only person connected to the Volmer Institute who isn't evil. He just simply brings people there and gets paid.
  • True Blue Femininity: Hannah is consistently shown wearing blue clothing.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Volmer goes on one once Hannah objects to his advances, Lockheart snaps out of his brainwashing and the two fight back against him. Right at the moment when Volmer rips his own face off, all bets are off.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Following the wreck no one mentions the fate of the chauffeur and Lockhart doesn't ask. Averted: halfway through the movie it's revealed that he is fine. He got a new car, went right back to work, and lives through the film.

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