A Cure For Life sign the great return of Gore Verbinski in horror cinema, as he revived quite unexpectedly with… The gothic literature of the Nineteenth century.
It took four years for the director of the first three Pirates of the Caribbean to recover from the sinking of his previous long-feature film, Lone Ranger – Birth of a hero, one of the biggest failures in the history of cinema. Four years to finally give birth to a strange baby, who seems to be less to older brothers already mentioned that to the old members of the family Verbinski, in particular his remake of The Ring in the early 2000s.
The story: the young Lockhart (Dane Dehaan), courier, freshly promoted to Wall Street, it is a task to make in a luxury care centre in the depths of the swiss Alps to retrieve one of his superiors, who refuses to return to New York. The so-called Pembroke, as well as several other patients fortunate, follow a mysterious treatment that Lockhart himself will be forced to experience following a car accident…
The plot of A CURE FOR LIFE, if she does not lack mystery, seems to be fairly typical : a young hero (more or less) carefree finds himself propelled into an environment that is strange and worrying that it will seek to unravel the secrets, at his risk and peril.
But this story highly codified finds an interest singular in updating the genre to the origin of these codes. The castle gloomy, the presence of the religion (through the disturbing church and the cemetery in particular), the exotic touch of Switzerland, but the exotic still, one of the Alps isolated from the rest of the world), the theme of the young girl victim of the monster, or the resurgence of a dark past, are all elements that evoke substantially the gothic novel of the Nineteenth century. More than an evocation, the first minutes of the film will appear the same as a modern adaptation of one of the works of the more canonical of the kind, and without any doubt the one which is found most often brought to the screen : Dracula. Jonathan Harker (in the book by Bram Stoker) is sent by his superior in a distant country, where he shall not find it, but replacing his predecessor in order to conclude a transaction with an odd Count…
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Replace the Transylvania by the Swiss, and everything is : the excuse of the case to conclude, the predecessor of which seems to have mysteriously lost the reason, or the reputation of the master of the premises among the villagers. Some scenes even seem to be taken directly from the novel, such as the arrival at the castle : in Stoker, Harker was led by the coachman of Dracula pulling “four horses […] splendid, a black coal ” ; in Verbinski, the box is replaced by a taxi-driver, and the horses by a Mercedes… Black, of course. As for the villagers, they represent undoubtedly the most “modernized” of the genre gothic. No peasant superstitious here, but a band of punks who dwells in the only bar of the village until something happens… One could almost dare to interpretation so far as to say that, more than punk, their style tends toward the gothic, as if the director had to make a nod hijacked in the name of the literary style.
However, the interest of the film lies not only in this game in comparison with the genre that inspired it. A CURE FOR LIFE is able to exist in a real atmosphere, black, tormented, which is as much a gothic pure as the fantastic, without ever knowing if the scene unfolding before our eyes is reality or hallucination – not to say a nightmare. The job of lights is to much, giving the sun of the Alps, glow, horror, unsuspected, and to the baths of the centre a shade of yellow, almost sepia, which evokes all the ancient history that the place is loaded…
The actors also create this climate, and worrying, that this is Mia Goth and allure of a virgin, candid with just a little something disturbing in the face (surely the absence of eyebrows), or the smile sometimes reassuring and sometimes frankly scary to Jason Isaacs. As for Dane Dehaan, he is perfect in the role of the young courier, full of ambition that sees little by little his certainties shattered in this universe populated by strange creatures. Deer, eels, cows, dentist : the film contains a bestiary of horror, as the director seems to take great pleasure to deploy. Without ever falling into vulgarity, gore, he distils sparingly in the elements of an adversarial climate, where the spectator is invited to lose themselves to the sides of the hero.
A CURE FOR LIFE could have been only the latest in a series thriller horror without personality : He is nothing. By updating the oldest codes of the literary genre of gothic, which has both nourished the film, Gore Verbinski has found the right idea to give his film a tone resolutely modern and aesthetically strong. His staging is elegant, rich and rhythmic truly wants to entertain during the 2: 20 film. Unless you have a phobia of water or enclosed spaces (or faces without eyebrows), nothing should prevent to go to discover this very good surprise, which in addition to gently shudder, or even frankly to return to the stomachs of the less hung up, will dare to visit a flash-back or an amazing conclusion to open a reflection on the excesses of the modern world capitalist… and will save a serious sum of money to all those who would have been able to have in the idea to offer a stay for a cure !
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• Achievement : Gore Verbinski
• Scenario : Gore Verbinski, Justin Haythe
• Main actors : Dane Dehaan, Mia Goth, Jason Isaacs
• Release Date : February 15, 2017
• Duration : 2h26min