A Cure for Wellness

Now Streaming on HBOGo

Chris: Accept the diagnosis: A Cure for Wellness is a new cult classic. I remain in awe of this film. How on earth did Gore Verbinski convince a studio to give him a huge sum of money to make this utterly bonkers movie? I don’t know, but I thank my lucky stars they did. Gorgeous to behold, and confusing to think about, A Cure for Wellness sends Dane DeHaan to a picturesque asylum run by crazy medical professionals with a fondness for eels. Does any of this make sense? I don’t think so, but it’s impossible to look away. Ghoulish, gothic and unapologetically over-the-top, A Cure for Wellness takes risks, and deserves acclaim for that. The film flopped, which is a shame, because we need more batshit horror like this, not less. And yet the fact that A Cure for Wellness is an anomaly is part of its charm. You won’t see a studio movie like this for a long time, or maybe ever again.

Matt: My enthusiasm towards Gore Verbinski’s A Cure For Wellness may not reach the plateau of /Film contributor and Twitter sensation Karen Han’s, but I must admit, this film is freaky fun (if a bit overlong). Dane DeHaan becomes such a fascinating actor when given the right material, and A Cure For Wellness’ Hammer-horror vibe is certainly that. I would’ve loved to have been in the room when Verbinski secured Wellness funding. An astounding accomplishment itself.

Hold the Dark

Now Streaming on Netflix

Chris: Hold the Dark is No Country for Cold Men, as I called it in my TIFF review. While this isn’t as incredible as Jeremy Saulnier’s previous two films – Blue Ruin and Green Room – it fits in nicely with his nihilistic, bleak, unforgiving filmography. Hold the Dark is an existential mind-fuck; a film about darkness both metaphorical and literal. Jeffrey Wright is a wolf expert summoned to a remote Alaskan town to track down wolves who snatched several children. What he finds is something much more surprising, and twisted. Blending mystical elements with cold hard reality, Saulnier’s film seeps under your skin like an icy chill, and doesn’t let up. Don’t expect to walk away from this feeling good.

Matt: Caught this one at Fantastic Fest on a theater screen and I’m happy I did. That shot of Alexander Skarsgård standing atop a wooden platform in his wolf mask, an orange glow emanating from the cave behind, that’s top-quality cinematography. But the rest? As a Murder Party, Blue Ruin, Green Room fan, Hold The Dark is my least appreciated Jeremy Saulnier film.  He’s a filmmaker who thrives under brutal simplicity, and the more “mystical” elements here feel mishmosh.

The Devil’s Advocate

Now Streaming on Netflix

Chris: Thank Satan for this goofball extravaganza. Al Pacino is at his over-the-top best as THE DEVIL HIMSELF, who also happens to run a very successful law firm (of course he does). Pacino’s Prince of Darkness recruits good old boy Keanu Reeves to come to the evil Big Apple and help him do dirty deeds. Reeves, the son of a very religious woman, moves himself and his wife (Charlize Theron) to NYC and proceeds to lose his soul. The film takes its time revealing that Pacino is the devil himself, but of course, you know it’s coming. All the while, Theron’s character is slowly losing her mind while Reeves seems oblivious to her torment. There’s a “twist” ending here that’s a bit of a cheat, but no matter – The Devil’s Advocate is a hoot.

Matt: Keanu Reeves and Al Pacino. KEANU REEVES AND AL PACINO. Did I mention Charlize Theron and Connie Nielsen? There’s that, but also REEVES AND PACINO.

As Above So Below

Now Streaming on Netflix

Chris: One of the better latter-day found-footage horror films, As Above So Below sends a crew into the catacombs of Paris in a search for Flamel’s Philosopher’s Stone (yes, the one from Harry Potter). What the team finds beneath the Paris streets, however, is far more hellish. Using clever visual tricks, director John Erick Dowdle, who also helmed the underseen found footage flick The Poughkeepsie Tapes, manages to create a foreboding sense of horror and hopelessness. The characters go deeper and deeper, unable to find their way out, and we’re trapped right there along with them.

Matt: My first watch was not a favorable one. As Above So Below is said to have been forgotten due to “found footage fatigue,” but as someone who enjoys found footage more than any horror fan he knows, what’s my excuse then? Maybe I should give this one Halloween rewatch.

Hideaway

Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Chris: Dean Koontz movie adaptations don’t get the same attention as those of Stephen King, probably because Dean Koontz isn’t half the writer King is. But gosh darn it, there’s something I love about Hideaway. I wouldn’t call this movie good, at least not in the traditional sense. But here is a film where Jeff Goldblum dies, goes to a CGI-enhanced heaven, then comes back to life and has to battle a serial killer, played by Jeremy Sisto. It’s wild, folks. The special effects in this film were cutting edge at the time, but they look wonderfully antiquated now. And yet, there’s a surprisingly creepy quality to the film’s depiction of the afterlife, particularly hell, which is shown as a writhing ball of screaming souls.

Matt: Here’s my weekly “haven’t seen this one” from Chris, but you’ve hooked me with Jeff Goldblum. I don’t want to know anything else.

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