A Cure For Wellness (2017)

Well, this is undoubtedly the weirdest thing coming out from Hollywood.

An ambitious young executive (Dane DeHaan) is sent to retrieve his company’s CEO from an idyllic but mysterious wellness centre at a remote location in the Swiss Alps, but soon suspects that the spa’s treatments are not what they seem.

Gore Verbinski’s return to horror is a welcome one. After his gripping 2002 entry of The Ring, it is no surprise that he and his team have fetched another disquieting yet elegant horror to fruition, with A Cure For Wellness.

And what a peculiar film this is! It is classic horror merged with the ugliness of todays greedy executive world. Verbinski opens with a very grim and dank city scape of mindless occupants, before moving us to the picturesque Swiss Alps, where the colour palette suddenly changes to every cinematographers dream! The green / blue tinged visuals and perfectly symmetrical framework are to die for.

Heralded by strong performances from all (Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs and Mia Goth), the trio of talent had me rapt in the sheer lunacy of the story. With every scene there comes a feeling of suffocation, a sense of suspicion and dread. Undeniably responsible from the crisp sound design that echoes throughout the gothic halls and hits your every nerve.

I could praise the film endlessly, yet it has its flaws. Narratively, the pacing lags at some points, which is an issue for a film with a grand running time of 146 minutes. The final act does shift its tone quite drastically to something you would expect from a Hammer film, which seems to be what has jarred a majority of audiences, considering the previous two hours spent in obscurity. Personally, I was feeling Phantom of the Opera vibes (which I love) so could happily sit back and appreciate the nightmarishly approach.

A Cure For Wellness won’t be everyone’s cuppa tea. Hell, some film critics can’t even seem to wrap their head around the inventiveness of the story and give it the love it deserves rather than the abysmal RT score. What is amazing to see is a Hollywood studio hand over such a large amount of cash to a director (for a horror!) and give him free reign to make this wacky creation, following with a larger distribution. This may in fact be the cure the horror genre needs.

As time goes by, the more I realise that there is something rather special here. The film is absolutely gorgeous, every frame is visually stylish, the imagery is striking and the backdrop is aesthetically jaw dropping. A perfect psychological horror with a touch of old fashion folklore. A Cure For Wellness mixes influences of HP Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe for a surreal spell, enrapturing audiences with delectable bravura and heart racing tension. With all its beauty, do not forget this is indeed a horror, there’s a certain scene you expect to have a cut away… it doesn’t… and I legit think I nearly passed out…

8.0 / 10

“Do you know what the cure for the human condition is? Disease. Because that’s the only way one could hope for a cure”

Shut In (2016)

Shut In… more like shut up.

A widowed child psychologist (Naomi Watts) lives alone in an isolated existence in rural New England. Caught in a deadly winter storm, she must find her way to rescue a young boy before he disappears forever.

Farren Blackburn’s sophomore directorial entry Shut In is proof that even a stellar cast can’t save a poor script. There is nothing substantial about this film, the majority of time is spent watching Naomi Watts flitter around her snowy doing fuck all. There are actual large gaps of story where nothing is actually happening. Some would perhaps be able to save the film by saying it’s a ‘slow burn’, I say those people are in denial, as this film moves incredibly slowly to absolutely no where you care to go.

It is incredibly frustrating to see such a talented cast (Naomi Watts, Charlie Heaton of Stranger Things and Jacob Tremblay of Room) wasted on such a lacklustre clunky story. The biggest insult for horror aficionados, is to endure a horror movie so unbearably boring. There is a total absence of any thrills or chills and the reveal is incredibly hokey and requires a large suspension of disbelief.

Naomi Watts you deserve so much better!

1.5 / 10

“Listen to what you’re saying, you’re talking about ghosts!” 

Area 51 (2015)

That is NOT how you sneak around a top secret military base, you noisy fuckers!

Three young conspiracy theorists attempt to uncover the mysteries of Area 51, the government’s secret location rumoured to have hosted encounters with alien beings. What they find at this hidden facility exposes unimaginable secrets.

I totally get why Area 51 has been sitting on a shelf for 5 years… From the director of one of my biggest guilty pleasures, Paranormal Activity, Oren Peli decides to follow it up with this? Really? It felt like two very different filmmakers made these movies. PA created such fear and tension in a single frame, so much so it resurrected the found footage genre into the twenty first century. Area 51 is… well… crap.

There are so many flaws with Area 51 I don’t know where to start. It is visually unsatisfying, poorly acted and narratively disjointed. The majority of the film is spent in a very boring build up of the break in and the characters themselves aren’t the slightest bit interesting nor are they even likeable or provide any motives for their lame break in. It all falls apart even more so with outdated action sequences of night vision and shaky cam.

The scariest thing about Area 51 was the severe lack of security that joint has!

2.0 / 10

“Something is pulling me towards the base” 

The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2015)

The devil is in the details…

 Two girls must battle a mysterious evil force when they get left behind at their boarding school over winter break.

Previously known in the festival circuit as February, before its title change to the much preferred title of The Blackcoat’s Daughter. Oz Perkins’ directorial debut has finally been released, weirdly after his sophomore film I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House.

There is no question, Perkins definitely has style and an unconventional approach to storytelling, similar to Pretty Thing his debut thrives on moody texture and throughout there lingers a sense of dread. Everything about the film oozes with style, the bleak backdrop of the cold dark landscape is undeniably gorgeous. The sound design is chilling; as discordant violin scrapes suffocate every scene with ominous gravity.

The films real strength is in its three leading ladies, Lucy Boynton, Kiernan Shipka and Emma Roberts whose superb performances create noise for such a quite movie. The story itself in an interesting take on the sub genre of possession although this one is definitely not hand fed to its audience. Unfortunately, the film treads the line of being somewhat painfully slow.

This moody atmospheric slow burner creates a haunting gothic experience and its violence is viciously surprising. Although it isn’t enough for the casual horror movie goer who will quickly run out of patience and not be able to appreciate the remarkable final minute.

6.0 / 10

“Do you believe in God, Joan?”