'A Cure for Wellness' 2017 Explanation and Review

Updated on September 16, 2018
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Big Blockbusters often hit their target with numbers, but how about the ride? Was it good for you?

#ACureForWellness #Dane DeHaan #Jason Isaacs #Mia Goth
#ACureForWellness #Dane DeHaan #Jason Isaacs #Mia Goth | Source

What's it About?

Lockhart is ambitious. His company is a bit on the seedy side of things and the CEO Mr Pembroke has disappeared right before a massive merger within the firm.

Mr Pembroke sends an odd and mysterious letter to the firm revealing his intentions to stay in the Swiss Alps in a wellness centre and the firm wants Lockhart to retrieve him.

Quick Film Facts

Directed by: Gore Verbinski.

Screenplay by: Justin Hathe.

Released: December 2017 in the USA.

Budget: $40 million.

Box Office: $26.6 million.

Trailer— A Cure for Wellness

Where Can I Watch This Film Legally?


Currently you are able to stream this on HBO Now and HBO Go. Buy it as download on Vudu, FandangoNOW, Microsoft Store, PlayStation, Amazon Video, Google Play Movies, YouTube.

Please check other countries on the site JustWatchIt.com

My Thoughts on the Film

Gore Verbinski is responsible for some of the highest grossing opening weekends for film ever. He has made three Pirates of the Caribbean movies and the 2002 hit The Ring.

I was looking forward to this movie the moment I laid eyes on the trailer which was impressive. I didn't get what I was expecting but I did get a meticulously beautiful eyeful and a twisty, bendy plot.

I really do appreciate the overall story for A Cure for Wellness. I can compare the feeling of it to the film It Comes at Night (2017) in the way that after watching it, I felt deflated. I felt like the distributors had tricked me into watching it with their dark and ominous posters and trailers that made you think it was about one thing but it was really about another. Then it sticks with you and makes you think about things besides the premise of the movie itself. I went back and watched it again and it all began to make sense. Some explanations I read were wrong to me.

Although some of the plot takes on a sordid narrative, it's not as though these ideas aren't used in film and TV from time to time. I'm not being specific as I want this section spoiler free, but the series Game of Thrones has the same sorts of unpalatable behaviour and billions have people have no problem digesting it there. It is also historically accurate with many regal families employing the same treatment.

What stuck with me after was the aspect of every day society and if you take away the fantasy element of this movie, you are left with the thought of how corporations really do behave this way sometimes. People get used as fall-guys to save the the greatest assets all the time. Wellness centres are actually a thing and people exploit the human condition.

What I didn't like about this film was its run time. Like seriously, 2 and a half hours? There were certain scenes that were just a waste of perfectly filmed pretty space. Pretty, pretty pictures but also not required.

I did like this movie. I enjoyed Dane DeHaan as Lockhart. I thought he played it with a subtle strength and I think despite what most critics say, he was cast right. Jason Isaacs as Volmer was marvellous and Mia Goth as Hannah was as innocent as she was brilliant. I can't wait to see her upcoming film for 2018 Suspiria and am about to watch Marrowbone (2017) which is receiving great feedback.

Do yourself a favor and give it a go, even if it is extremely long.

I give A cure for Wellness 3.5 tonics that taste like sweat out of 5.

Hannah's told never to go in the water for fear that she will discover that she's 'different.' #Horror #Newhorror #A CureForWellness
Hannah's told never to go in the water for fear that she will discover that she's 'different.' #Horror #Newhorror #A CureForWellness | Source

Which Part of this Film was the most Confusing?

See results

Explain it to me Please! This Section Contains Many Spoilers

Main Characters


  • Why did he stay? Mentioned elsewhere in this review is the affects of the water. One is compliance. As they are in a state of hallucination, they are easily swayed. He stayed because he was told to stay after Lockhart told him to leave.
  • I also think this is the reason the patients attacked Lockhart in the dining room. Perhaps some hypnotherapy was part of the treatment at the centre too.


  • Is the baby cut from her mothers womb.
  • She lived after being drowned because her mother was drinking the elixir while pregnant.
  • The elixir made her age at the speed of a snail and survive being thrown into the water after being cut from the womb.
  • Due to the length of time Hannah has been consuming the elixir, it is almost as though she has just as much power as the eels and is able to repel them as seen in the water when she first gets her period.


  • Is the Barron. He is Hanna's father.
  • He used faces taken from patients to change his identity and cover his scarred and burned face over the centuries which healed because he was using the elixir.
  • He has experimented and plotted for over 200 years, working out the best way to use and make the elixir.

The Baroness

  • Is Volmers' sister who he married to keep the family heritage in line.
  • Was pregnant when she's killed and had been cured by the Baron of her earlier ailment of being infertile.
  • She died because they cut her open and burned her at the stake. The elixir was unable to save her.

The Wellness Centre's Employees

  • Are survivors from the Baron's original staff and have also been consuming the elixir over the centuries.

The History

Before the events in the film the Baron lived in a castle right where the wellness centre now sits. The Baron wanted to keep his bloodline pure so he married his sister to have a baby with. The Baron discovers his sister is infertile so he tries to find a cure by experimenting on the villagers in town. He discovered that the properties of the elixir prolonged life as well as cured his wife's ailment and so began taking it himself.

Dried up corpses begin to appear and get discovered by the villagers who know that the Baron has something to do with it. When the villagers embark on a plan to kill the Baron and Baroness for killing the townsfolk, they burn down the castle and the Baron. Then they tie the Baroness to a stake, burn her and cut out her baby and throw it in the water.

The Baron, severely injured, retrieves the baby (showing that he too is not set upon by the eels) and hides out underneath the castle where he has a secret room complete with access to the water and enough elixir to sustain himself until he can continue with his work and rebuild.

Over time he discovers that he doesn't need to take people by force and can in fact lure people to his wellness centre under the guise of curing them of anything they need curing of. Having all patients consume copious amounts of the water keeps them in a constant state of hallucination which also ensures they are convinced and even hypnotized to respond to any idea he implants into the minds of those treated.

Lockhart discovers a microscopic bug in his water. It's a baby eel. The water is not toxic to the eels. #ACureForWellness
Lockhart discovers a microscopic bug in his water. It's a baby eel. The water is not toxic to the eels. #ACureForWellness | Source

The Elixir, the Eels and the Filtration System

The Elixir

Through experimentation Volmer worked out a filtration system to use the toxic but magical water via the eels. The eels aren't affected by the toxins in the water. Because the human body is part water, giving the patients the toxic water with eels allowed the properties of eternal life to become filtered through the human body via sweat which is then collected and put into vials.

The Filtration System

The water given to patients has microscopic baby eels who gain immortality from being in the water. When patients are given their 'treatment,' the water and properties from the immortal eels excretes through sweat and is then collected.

The patients are given rejuvenation from time to time to stall the effects of drinking the toxic water but eventually the body gives out and they die. They are then fed to the eels.

The dehydration treatment is given more often towards the end of a body's use and grown eels get inserted through the mouth to make the sweat more potent.

The Water and the Eels

The water is toxic but is not toxic to the eels. Instead the eels became immortal and instead of living a few years, lived for hundreds of years.

The water in the aquifer causes visions, dehydration and compliance in those that consume it.

The dehydration eventually causes death. Volmer found a way to prolong using a body by treatments in the rejuvenation tanks (the ones' where Lockhart thought everyone was dead.)

The Ending

  • Lockhart is not Volmer with a new face. Lockhart is smiling because he is the greatest corporate fiend. Being at the wellness centre has regained his strength.
  • He has Hannah. She aided him throughout the film and killed her father to save him. Lockhart has the key to eternal life and knows how the filtration process works.
  • Lockharts teeth got replaced by the dentist. There was a massive jar of teeth in the room. All patients in treatment receive new teeth.
  • In the isolation tank he remembered how and what caused his father to commit suicide. He has the upper hand over the firm and with the elixir can outlive them all and take over the company.
  • Lockhart didn't die from being given the grown eels as his body was still strong. He digested them and has prolonged his own life and taken on the properties of the elixir.
  • Volmer may still be alive. I doubt the eels would have eaten him for the same reasons they didn't eat Hannah.
  • There could be surviving employees who are able to stay alive if they have enough elixir.

Lockhart has his teeth fixed. You can't be wandering around with missing teeth, what will people think? #DaneDehaan
Lockhart has his teeth fixed. You can't be wandering around with missing teeth, what will people think? #DaneDehaan | Source

The Letter from Pembroke

"A man cannot unsee the truth. He cannot willingly return to darkness or go blind once he has the gift of sight any more than he can be unborn. We are the only species capable of self-reflection. The only species with the toxin of self-doubt written into our genetic code. Unequal to our gifts, we build, we buy, we consume. We wrap ourselves in the illusion of material success. We cheat and deceive as we claw our way to the pinnacle of what we define as achievement. Superiority to other men. There is a sickness inside us. Rising like the bile that leaves that bitter taste at the back of our throats. It's there in every one of you seated around the table. We deny its existence until one day the body rebels against the mind and screams out, "I am not a well man". No doubt you will think only of the merger. That unclean melding of two equally diseased institutions. But the truth cannot be ignored. For only when we know what ails us can we hope to find the cure. I will not return. Do not attempt to contact me again."

Questions & Answers

  • Why do you think Lockhart went back to his old career?

    Lockhart was disenchanted with the company he worked for and life itself.

    Being at the Wellness centre reinvigorated his lust for success.

    With him is someone who just might be the key to immortality. He also knows how to utilise it to get what he wants. Going back to a multi billion dollar company with ties to industry all over the world just might make him top dog.

  • Let me ask you a question. What are the themes of this movie? You have explained the plot quite well but I remain confused about the influences on the film, and what it is saying.

    The film itself is themed with the paranoid, the guilty and what it feels like to be controlled. I personally love these influences and the way they are set out within the film.

  • Jacob Martin didn’t go back in the version I saw?

    Jacob Martin was shown in a ballroom which was not in present times. This implies he had in fact gone into the ghostly realm of the past.

© 2017 Mother of Movies and Series Reviews


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    • profile image


      11 months ago

      Thanks for the information. Just watched it and was a little confused.

    • NessMovieReviews profile imageAUTHOR

      Mother of Movies and Series Reviews 

      20 months ago from Moreton Bay, Queensland

      Hi Amy, thanks for the question. Lockhart was strapped down because he knew they were pulling people's teeth and he was unwilling to have it happen to him too. The patients are being drained over time (their sweat.) to make the magic immortality serum. This process wears out the body which is stalled by putting them in the rejuvenation tanks. Eventually, the body breaks down and they are dumped back into the aquifer. All patients within the facility lose their teeth. But they can't have them all looking like worn out suffering patients! All patients get new teeth before their old ones all fall out.

    • profile image

      Amy Sheridan 

      21 months ago

      why did they strap him down in the first place to drill through his front tooth if they were just going to replace it?


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