Gore Verbinski rises from the ashes after the downfall of The Lone Ranger, a film that lost Disney $250 million and helped end the partnership between Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer. As a rare fan of The Lone Ranger (both film and score), it’s always exciting to see one of the few remaining auteur directors out there explore unique territory. It doesn't get more unique than A Cure For Wellness, a story about a young executive sent to a strange rehab center in the Swiss Alps only to discover something more sinister going on to keep patients checked in and desiring a cure for a mysterious illness.
Benjamin Wallfisch provides an absolutely rich and haunting score here anchored by a powerful central theme that is woven throughout. Many people may ask though, what happened to Hans Zimmer? It is true, this will be the first Verbinski film not scored by Hans since Gore’s first two films with Alan Silvestri. The reason being simply scheduling, and not the “Alexandre Desplat couldn’t score Rogue One because of a scheduling conflict” but a real scheduling conflict. Hans’ tour last year made it impossible for him to be a part of the film, but you don’t have to worry one bit. Wallfisch’s score here is fantastic.
Benjamin worked out much of the score before production and took the ideas communicated by Gore and turned them into a haunting lullaby that gently rocks us into a state of hypnosis. That is before turning things on their side and really giving us a good psychological shakedown. The score does mimic a sickness taking over; pleasing melodic material slowly breaks down into more suspense inducing builds before finally dissolving into hair-raising ambient shock. The structure of a waltz is used to add a sense of disorientation, making it feel like you're not sure which way is up or down. The use of lullabies in horror/thriller scores is nothing new, and successful attempts have been made with scores like Pan’s Labyrinth or The Ring. However there is a distinct difference between using a lullaby structure to connect to a character or aid the narrative versus a lullaby just to be creepy. Thankfully filmmakers like Guillermo Del Toro and Gore Verbinski actually know how to properly use a lullaby to help the story, and the way Wallfisch executes everything here musically is simply thrilling. Our waltzy main theme bookends the score for a chilling conclusion to the whole plunge into darkness. The music almost whimpers one last breath of air before falling silent.
A Cure For Wellness is a fantastic psychological thriller score from Benjamin Wallfisch who really got to flex his narrative skills here. While the horror/thriller genre is nothing new for Benjamin, this is probably his most wonderfully executed score in the genre. The calming yet chilling main theme that evolves throughout and also bookends the score helps us as listeners go on this dark journey. We are lured into the darkness and then grabbed by our shoulders suddenly as you struggle to break free. The music paints a strong narrative and keeps its shape all the way through to the end. The score's success is due to the strong voice and talents of the composer behind it, and it brings Gore Verbinski’s dark little story to vivid life.
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