“At Last, We’ve Found The Place Where We Can Be Safe…”
Written and directed by Spanish filmmaker, Sergio G. Sánchez, whose previous credits include screenplays for the likes of The Orphanage and The Impossible, interesting and successful movies directed by fellow compatriot, J. A. Bayona, who is currently making waves in the box office with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, The Secret of Marrowbone is a equally fascinating thriller chiller which merges ghostly horror with secretive deceptions as the movie follows the Marrowbone family after the untimely death of their loving mother in 1960’s America. Led by George MacKay’s (Pride) Jack Marrowbone, the reclusive family soon become haunted by a seemingly supernatural entity buried high within the household, adding to the perils of the local lawyer, as played by Kyle Soller (The Fifth Estate), who attempts to derail the family’s ownership of their one safe haven, and whilst Marrowbone is a movie bursting with splendid performances, subtle creepy asides and beautiful set designs, Sánchez’s movie ultimately doesn’t hold a candle to his previous works, but still remains a solid, if overly predictable, gothic floor-creaker.
With supporting performances from the likes of young, genre aficionados such as Charlie Heaton and Mia Goth, with the latter rising to fame in Netflix’s Stranger Things and the former starring in the likes of A Cure for Wellness and the upcoming remake of Dario Argento’s Suspiria, Marrowbone’s leading performances are all effectively finely tuned for the overall mood of the piece, particularly that of MacKay, whose transition throughout the course of the movie works primarily to the actor’s commitment and belief in the role. With the ever-splendid Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch) taking a slightly different path to what fans of her work are used to, her character helps channel the absurdity of the plot come the final, overly predictable twist, a narrative jump which not only does not work as hauntingly effective as Sánchez’s work on The Orphanage, but one which opens up a spectacular can of worms regarding the meteor-sized plot holes it leaves behind in its’ wake. Featuring, but not relying on, a couple of well-timed jump scares and spooky set pieces, Marrowbone isn’t your straightforward haunted house piece as it weaves through to more of a Gothic-infused, Shutter Island esque psychological conclusion, and whilst Sánchez manages to prove himself as a director in his big screen debut, its’ surprisingly the script which doesn’t exactly hold together, resulting in a movie which begins in puzzling fashion yet ends on a slight bum note.
Overall Score: 6/10
“Do You Know What The Cure For The Human Condition Is? Disease. Because That’s The Only Way One Could Hope For A Cure…”
Rather annoyingly, the use of the term “visionary” is something of which is pushed around so often in the current cinematic climate that to be regarded as such is somewhat of a negative down-stroke. With the likes of Zack Snyder and now Gore Verbinski proclaiming themselves as visionaries of modern cinema, directors who have released such “classics” such as Sucker Punch and Mouse Hunt respectively, the term has now officially become defunct and saved only for those who are deserved of the term, you know, like directors who have actually made films of some worth. Anyhow, Verbinski returns this year with the 18 rated A Cure For Wellness, a film which harks back to everything from The Ninth Configuration to Lars von Trier’s Riget, and a picture which can only be regarded as one of the most boring, misjudged and overlong works of horror I can remember within the remits of recent history. Whilst many have condoned A Cure For Wellness as simply nothing more than a Shutter Island rip-off, Verbinski’s latest makes Scorsese’s OTT two hours of mania look like a modern masterpiece, with it more likely to send you into a deep coma of confusion than inflict any real tangible sense of threat throughout a barnstorming length of two and a half hours.
After dropping a job-losing clunker and subsequently threatened with criminal prosecution, egotistic Wall Street flunky Lockhart, played by The Place Beyond the Pines’ Dane DeHaan, is sent to a mysterious health care centre in the heart of the Swiss Alps in order to retrieve a AWOL financial executive who has supposedly regressed into a complete and utter basket case and refuses to return to the US of A in order to complete a huge financial deal. Cue creepy looking patients, a mindless and ridiculously overcooked narrative and a concluding feeling of watching a movie which not only could lose at least an hour of its’ running time but one in which nothing actually happens, A Cure for Wellness suffers primarily from a runtime which is unbearable to say the least, and although Verbinski is renowned for an array of miscalculated movie lengths, with Pirates of the Caribbean 3 being a prime example, A Cure for Wellness is his pièce de résistance in terms of runtime malpractice. Whilst Jason Isaacs does do the best with what he’s given in the cliched “foreign stranger” role, the movie can’t escape the problems of its’ silliness, particularly within scenes of unnecessary violence including a cheesy R-rated dentist appointment and an attempted rape scene which borders on the outskirts of being a utter cringe-inflicted misstep. If you wish to see the type of movie A Cure for Wellness is so obviously attempting to be, seek out something like Shutter Island or The Shining instead, relieving you of the utter tedium of delving into a horror which is neither horrific or interesting. A cure for wellness? A cure for sleep deprivation.