There's something strange going on in A Cure for Wellness. And I'm not just talking about the creepy, prison-like mental hospital spa seen in the trailers, or the creatures appearing in the water. Based on the trailers, it looks like A Cure for Wellness takes place in a kind of dystopian past. The lack of technology paired with the elaborate, gothic visuals make it difficult to place the film in history. Well, hold on to your hats, ladies and gents, because when A Cure for Wellness is set is actually in modern times.
The "spa" at the center of A Cure for Wellness is a castle. There are no electronics at the facility, which is absent of modern architecture and detail. The entire setting is removed from almost any and all technological advancement, suggesting that everything inside it takes place in a distant past. And yet, A Cure for Wellness does not take place in the past. (And, no, it also doesn't take place in a distant future.) Instead, the thriller takes place in present day. You can catch glimpses of modern clues in the trailer for A Cure for Wellness, as Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) can be seen dressed in a suit, siting at a long table in a city skyscraper. In other words, he looks like your average, modern-day businessman.
The disconnect between the film's present-day timeframe and past setting is actually a huge part of the plot (which I won't spoil for you here). Director Gore Verbinski purposefully wanted the film to disorient viewers with a mix of modern and gothic images. Speaking about the opening sequence of the film, which features Lockhart receiving a letter and heading to the spa, Verbinski told LRM Online that he intended the letter to disrupt the modernity of the setting. "There's a sense of that hand reaching all the way into the modern world and grabbing, clutching our protagonist and pulling him to this place," he said. Moreover, Verbinski revealed that the spa was designed to bring viewers back in time, so to speak. "I feel like we can blend the modern world and start to evaporate it and lose track of it as we come to this place," he said.
A Cure for Wellness takes place in modern day, but no one will blame you if you forget that by the end of the movie. In fact, if you don't, then it hasn't done its job.