At a large financial services firm in New York City, a man named Morris is working late when he suffers a fatal heart attack. Lockhart, an ambitious young executive, takes his place and is sent by the company board members to retrieve the company’s CEO, Roland Pembroke, from an idyllic, but mysterious, “wellness center” at a remote location in the Swiss Alps. This retrieval is prompted by a troubling letter from a seemingly much changed Pembroke, whom they need to sign off on an imminent company merger. There is also an ongoing investigation into criminal business deals, which several partners hope to pin on Pembroke upon his return. Arriving at the spa, Lockhart is met with some resistance by the staff, particularly Dr. Heinreich Volmer, in his attempts to speak with Pembroke. He eventually succeeds in getting through to him, but not before a car crash forces him to recover at the center with a broken leg.
Lockhart meets a mysterious young girl named Hannah, who, like Volmer, drinks a strange fluid kept in a cobalt bottle. A patient named Victoria Watkins, as well as residents of the nearby town, tell Lockhart the story of the spa that was built on the ruins of a castle, once owned by a baron 200 years ago. The baron desired an heir of pure blood and married his sister. When the baron learned she was infertile he began performing hellish experiments on the peasants in order to find a way to cure his wife’s infertility. He succeeded, but after finding the bodies of his victims, the peasants rose up and burned the castle down. The baron’s pregnant sister was captured by the peasants. The baby was then cut from her womb before she was burned. Although they tossed the baby into the local aquifer, it somehow survived.
Lockhart investigates his suspicions and discovers the transfusion wing of the spa is a front for horrific medical expirements. Eels, whose lives can be vastly extended by the properties in the aquifer’s water that is toxic to humans, are used. The doctor filters the eels through the bodies of patients at the retreat, to produce the “cure”, which Volmer, Hannah and others are ingesting. Lockhart is captured by Volmer, who is actually the centuries-old baron, surviving off the cure, and Lockhart is subjected to nightmarish treatments that warp his mind like Pembroke, but Hannah sees that he’s been changed, and gives him back the ballerina his mother gave him, which breaks him out of his tdelirium.
This film, is rather strange, somewhat confusing and somewhat disturbing. Seeing the torture that the patients go through as a “cure’ for their wellness, is often unsettling, though much of it is not realistic at all. Although many sanitariums in the world have been noted to have abusive staff for hundreds of years, this film shows the abuse in unreal and at many times over the top grotesque or just plain stupid. Much of the effects of this movie are well done, as well as the scenery and the costumes and make up. The classical and German heavy metal (in bar scene) fit this film well, making it more intense, disturbing, or somewhat happy.
This is a not movie for the faint of heart because almost all of it contains grusome imagery that might cause nightmares, because it is also extremely violent.
Dane DeHaan portrays the main character Lockhart, very well and I believe this is his best performance yet. Jason Isaacs was great as Dr. Heinreich Volmer and made him quite frightening (just like his character in Harry Potter). Mia Goth did farely well as Hannah, making her seem very niave, very confused and very curious at times, but she just didn’t act out her character as well as she should have to me. To me Dane was the best in this film and Jason a very close second. 3/5