Gothika Review

by JoBlo (joblo AT joblo DOT com)
November 20th, 2003

RATING: 5/10

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A psychiatrist in a woman's penitentiary finds herself on the other side of the bars when she wakes up one morning, incarcerated for apparently having chopped someone up. The doctor, unable to remember what really happened, finds herself in the unenviable position of trying to prove her innocence while most everyone around believes her to be nuts...and hot! (although that last part could just be me) A movie with a title that has zero correlation to anything in

A mediocre supernatural "thriller" that utilizes mucho style to override its deja-vu storyline while slowly, but quite redundantly, weaving through very minor plot deviations or surprises along the way (we got it, she's confused and she may have killed move to the next point!) I would slightly recommend this film on video, if only because of its moody atmosphere, its stylish highlights, its acting, specifically Halle Berry, who delivers a strong showing, and its ability to keep me guessing about its "whodunit" until the end. Not that this is the world's greatest mystery, in fact, it's not even a fair one with the finale surprising me, but mostly because it was so preposterous in nature, rather than impressive or fulfilling. I won't go into details, but suffice it to say that despite the film's typical rambling "bad guy" speech at the end, I didn't buy any of it for a New York minute. That said, I'll give the movie points for not wasting too much of my time, at an easy 90 minutes and plenty of dark tones, but take some of those points right back for not spending enough time on its secondary characters, all of whom were woefully underdeveloped (Downey Jr. spoke about this in our interview and even remarked about how the script was "always changing" and how his character, for one, was "reduced") I thought Penelope Cruz was also pretty brave in taking on such an unflattering role, but unfortunately her character's arc was also left dangling.

Ultimately, the film is really only about Berry's character and even though its basic premise was cool enough to keep me intrigued at first, I ultimately lost most of my interest when the plot didn't seem to go anywhere and started to feel somewhat "been there, seen that". One of the film's later plot points also involved a 10-15 dialogue-less "search" by Berry herself which felt like it went on forever. See Halle walk into the room. See Halle search through drawers. See Halle fiddle around on the Internet. See Halle drive a car out to a house. See Halle search the house. See Halle get back in her car-okay, we get it already! This shit is boring me. All that to say that despite the film "looking" pretty wicked and offering a great performance by its supposedly psycho leading lady (I love how Berry is the only prisoner who seems to have a short-tight white t-shirt on the whole time...nice!), it didn't really offer many thrills, other than a handful of "boo scares" (one of which actually made a lady in our audience scream aloud) and concluded with a weak, over-the-top and let's face it...unbelievable ending. It also felt like I'd seen this film about a dozen times before, many of which versions were much better than this recycled matter. BTW, was I the only one who winced every time Robert Downey Jr. grabbed Berry's arms? Watch it, you jerk! The unimpressive Dark Castle Entertainment track record continues...

Where's JoBlo coming from?
13 Ghosts (5/10) - Crimson Rivers (8/10) - Ghost Ship (5/10) - Hannibal (7/10) - House on Haunted Hill (7/10) - The Others (9/10) - The Ring (8/10) - The Sixth Sense (8/10) - Stir of Echoes (8/10) - What Lies Beneath (8/10)
Review Date: November 19, 2003
Director: Mathieu Kassovitz
Writer: Sebastian Gutierrez
Producers: Joel Silver, Robert Zemeckis, Susan Levin
Actors: Halle Berry as Miranda Grey
Robert Downey Jr. as Pete Graham
Penelope Cruz as Chloe Sava
Genre: Thriller
Year of Release: 2003
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(c) 2003 Berge Garabedian

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