Part of the joy of experiencing a Gore Verbinski film is the spontaneity. You never know where he might go next. Sometimes, he offers family-friendly fun with quirky romps like the live-action comedy Mousehunt or the animated Western Rango. Sometimes, he relishes in more mature fare, winning hearts with the Brad Pitt/Julia Roberts action-romance The Mexican or spurring chills with the iconic horror film The Ring. He stacked up studio cred and scads of fans by helming the first three entries of the swashbuckling franchise Pirates of the Caribbean. And now, he’s returned to theater with a fascinating and unapologetically strange psychological-thriller, A Cure For Wellness.
Based on a story concept from Verbinski and screenwriter Justin Haythe, A Cure For Wellness follows a young and arrogant executive (Dane DeHaan) down the rabbit hole, when a trip to retrieve an MIA CEO from an eerie wellness resort in the Swiss Alps, becomes a struggle to escape with his sanity and his life.
Screen Rant sat down with Verbinski to explore how he got such a daring movie made in a studio system obsessed with sequels, remakes, and superheroes. We dug into the odd beauty and ditties of A Cure For Wellness, as well as why TV might be Verbinski’s next frontier.
What I really love about Cure for Wellness is all these big risks in it. One: It’s an original property. It’s decidedly a very strange world to throw an audience into. The screen time runs over two hours. How are you able to convince a studio to take on something this potentially risky?
GORE VERBINSKI: Hypnosis. This was made through New Regency, which is kind of a mini-major [studio]. It’s distributed by Fox but I think everybody’s sort of run away from the middle, if you would say. And I think when people sort of vacate an area, I think naively, there are opportunities there.
There’s certainly been some of that because we saw with Deadpool last year, which was a mid-budget superhero movie, which is something everybody thought couldn’t work, but it thrived. Would you like to see a return to mid-budget films that get to be riskier but with a higher production value?
GORE VERBINSKI: Sure and also going to a theater and not knowing what you’re going to see. So often now we’ve been to the theme park or we’ve gone on the ride or we’ve played the video game or read the graphic novel. I think that these process of trying to eventize the experience has really, you can feel the whole thing sort of tearing apart. I’d like to think that if you find your audience there are still opportunities there to go and tell an original story.
There’s this eerie kind of humming sound that goes through the whole thing that Hannah sings. Can you tell me a little bit about how that sound emerged?
GORE VERBINSKI: Sure. The tune had to be like a perfume bottle was opened somewhere in the Alps and sort of drifted across the Atlantic and it’s summoning Lockhart, Dane’s character, to this place. It had to serve that function, the function of almost a lullaby and a music box but then also be this crazy Bavarian waltz in the third act. So, with Ben Wallfisch the composer, we went through endless iterations trying to find something that sound familiar but was still its own thing.
You’ve made a lot of leaps from genre to genre quite successfully. Have you ever considered jumping to television?
GORE VERBINSKI: Sure. There’s a lot of interesting things happening in the longer form narrative. Conditions would have to be right, but yeah, I’m very interested.
What’s a genre you might like to explore in television?
GORE VERBINSKI: Oh, I don’t know yet. I don’t really apply, the genre is sort of the by-product of the narrative. In this case, we were playing with the idea that something as benign and tranquil as a health spa and saying, “OK, what if we turn that on its head and the cure was worse than the disease?” You find yourself rooted in the genre but I don’t start from genre.