Saturday, 25 February 2017


Starring Dane Dehann, Jason Isaacs and Mia Goth. Written by Justin Haythe from a story by Justing Haythe and Gore Verbinski. Directed by Gore Verbinski. Running time 146 minutes. Budget $40 million. Certificate 18.

Bloody hell, this is an odd one. On one hand an unsettling and, at times, freakishly creepy gothic horror while on the other a sign-post heavy, nod and a wink melodramatic velvety black comedy, without the laughs.

The film sees rising ruthless corporate wunder-kid, Morris Lockhard (Dane Dehann) packed off to a Swiss sanatorium to bring back home a high ranking member of his company's board who's resigned in the form of a ranting, rambling letter. However once there, Morris discovers that like the Eagles, once you've checked in you can never leave. He falls under the spell of mysterious girl child, Hannah (Mia Goth), the oddly sinister Sanatorium Director, Dr. Volmer (Jason Issacs), and a gaggle of aged patients but what is their connection to the brutal, incest-riddled, legend of the sanatorium, a mysterious half-ruined castle in the grounds, the weird golden liquid filled blue-bottles that all the staff seem to take drops from, and what's with all the eels? With clues littered in almost every scene it's not difficult to work out what the funk is really going and the film builds in a genuinely icky way right up to the final act where the whole film's mystery is revealed and the scene is set for a Phantom of the Opera style ending and a huge fiery conflagration that all feels a little flat especially in the light of what has gone before.

When the film works it's because of the skill of director Gore Verbinski and his art department and set designs which are never anything less than sumptuous and beautifully textured. However it's ultimately let down by the need for that pat action-packed and conventional Hollywood ending, which
sort of spoils all the unsettling weirdness that has been building oh-so-very slowly over the past 126 minutes. Regardless, the performances are good and understandably mysterious and there are some gloriously disgusting body-horror shocks in store for the unwitting audience. This feels a little like David Lynch crossed with David Cronenberg.

Certainly a weird and creepy little film, let down by a Hollywood action ending and a very odd final scene.


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