We All Float Down Here – Special Field Report on A Cure for Wellness Blu-ray
Like yoga, hiking, acupuncture, or meditating, the faddish holistic pastime of “floating” – in which the punter bobs like a cork in a sea of Epsom salt water – is gaining new converts who claim the calming practice can help cure depression, anxiety, addiction, jet lag, and muscle tension; or at the very least, it clears the mind and rejuvenates the soul.
Being inside float tanks (also known as sensory deprivation chambers) — pitch-black, soundproof capsules — is enjoying a renaissance. (Even Homer Simpson tried it!)
The practice was once heralded as a path to enlightenment (and even hallucination) for those on the creative cutting edge. Developed in 1954 by a neuroscientist named John C. Lilly, the float tank really took off in the 1970s, bolstered by claims that they could stretch boundaries of all kinds. Filmmaker Ken Russell most famously brought the idea of horror into it with his 1980 opus Altered States.
The tank is back – to horrifying effect – in A Cure for Wellness. It’s a return to horror form for erstwhile Pirates of the Caribbean franchise helmer Gore Verbinski. Dane DeHaan plays Lockhart, an unwilling patient at a medical treatment spa run by the unscrupulous, nefarious Dr. Volmer (Jason Isaacs). Lockhart is subjected to a series of shocking “treatments” that are squirm-inducing to say the least. One of the more frightening scenes has him locked inside a giant float tank with a school of electric eels.
When A Cure for Wellness was out in theaters, we caught up with DeHann and asked him about filming that harrowing sequence. “We did some takes that were twenty minutes long, and it was two weeks of shooting underwater stuff. I had breaks, but I was never dry for those two weeks. I had to trust Gore one hundred percent.”
I had to trust Fox Home Entertainment one hundred percent when, in celebration of the movie’s release on Blu-ray, they invited Dread Central to take part in one of the wettest publicity stunts we’ve ever tried. (Though the Carrie “blood dump” on our own Vanessa Gomez comes close!)
I have no problems with solitude, close quarters, or darkness; but I will admit I get restless pretty quick when it comes to soaking in water. I’ll splash in the pool for a minute, and I can last about a quarter of an hour in a hot bathtub before I start getting bored. But still, I was game for a float.
I arrived at Westwood’s Float Lab at 9PM and was prepped for my plunge. I should have known the elevator would be taking me down to the basement.
Apparently, I was supposed to be naked but my job description doesn’t include that – I wore my vintage one-piece. I was supposed to be in the tank for two hours in utter silence, but I took the option of doing 55 minutes while the film’s wonderfully eerie soundtrack played. I know, I know… that’s cheating. But I figured I was doing this in support of the movie, not for my health. And besides, I do love the music. It’s composed by Benjamin Wallfisch (who, coincidentally, does the score for the upcoming feature version of Stephen King’s It).
I donned my neon green earplugs – to stop swimmer’s ear – and stepped into the tank, with only a vague idea of what to expect. I shut the door behind me, lay supine as directed, and let myself float in the warm, salty solution.
The music enveloped me as I adjusted to the buoyancy of the liquid. It’s only about 10 inches deep, and it submerges all but your face, knees, and toes (these exposed bits begin to feel chilled as the minutes tick by). It takes a sec to figure out where best to place your arms. I was instructed on a few possible positions before taking the plunge, but I found that interlacing my fingers behind my neck was the most comfy.
The experience wasn’t scary, nor was it revelatory. No altered states, no electric eel attacks. It’s about what I expected: mildly pleasant and a bit boring. Time didn’t stop, stretch, or shorten. It felt like an hour, and it was, when I was alerted by the Fox Home Video publicist that I could step out. I showered the salty solution away, then posed for the obligatory “pictures or it didn’t happen!” portrait.
When all’s said and dunked, I am glad I did it. What’s more, I really look forward to seeing the movie again. As I said in my original review for Dread Central, “A Cure for Wellness is a gorgeously Gothic opus, complete with melodrama, a mysterious castle, a mustache-twirling villain, a wide-eyed innocent beauty, and the beleaguered beau who risks it all to rescue her from a frightening fate.” It’s a cure for the common horror flick, for sure.
A Cure for Wellness Release Info:
From the director of The Ring comes this psychological thriller and “fantastically creepy experience” (Kyle Smith, New York Post) about an ambitious young executive sent to retrieve his company’s CEO from a remote and mysterious “wellness center.” When he begins to unravel the retreat’s terrifying secrets, his sanity is tested, as he finds himself diagnosed with the same curious illness that keeps all the guests there longing for the cure.
Featuring hauntingly mesmerizing performances from Dane DeHaan (Chronicle), Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter films), and Mia Goth (Everest), the Blu-ray and DVD include a deleted sequence, a behind-the-scenes look at the scoring of the film, and individual meditations from the wellness center.
Look for it in stores and On Demand June 6, 2017.
- Deleted Sequence: “It’s Wonderful Here”
- Water Is the Cure
- Air Is the Cure
- Earth Is the Cure
- The Score
- Theatrical Trailer
- Red Band Trailer
- International Trailer