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Gothika
2003 - R - 95 Mins.
Director: Mathieu Kassovitz
Producer: Susan Levin, Joel Silver, Robert Zemeckis
Written By: Sebastian Gutierrez
Starring: Halle Berry, Robert Downey Jr, Charles S. Dutton, John Carroll Lynch, Bernard Hill, Penelope Cruz
Review by: Carl Langley
   

No seriously, let me out
Gothika is a roller coaster ride no matter which angle it is viewed at. The suspense and thrills are there, but eventually it is all diluted and the ride dulls itself out. The resourcefulness of the script is indistinctively brief, but erases itself out with one of those gigantic red erasers labeled “preposterous and corny.” And the twist, an essential vitamin in the nutrition of every horror picture, is absolutely predictable and oppressive. This is one of those rides that makes you want to vomit at the end, yet only because of what you paid for its lameness, not because it was so intense and exhilarating.

What makes matters worse is we can chalk another one up under the “ghost story” category. These myths are so shopworn and are never effective, whether it be comedy (i.e. Ghost Dad or Casper), drama (Ghost), or the genre this film falls under, horror. Out of these three genres, horror is the hardest to pull off because the eeriness needs to be intact the whole movie, which eventually leads to stale material and overused methods of making the audience jump. Gothika wears every method thinner than Lara Flynn Boyle’s body after a four day absence from food.

Halle Berry has avoided following up her career performance in Monster’s Ball long enough. It is about time she shed some more light on her “acting” and stop participating in blockbuster hoopla. Ever since her Oscar-winning performance, we have only witnessed her sporting long, white hair and orange G-string bikinis (from a lascivious standpoint, this is not too bad). At least we can watch her in a disheveled appearance trying to act with what she is given - reoccurring screams left and right. Unfortunately, the rarity is more caustically hurtful than appealing.

Here she plays Miranda Grey, a psychiatrist at a Connecticut hospital for the criminally insane. On her way home from work, in down-pouring rain and loud, crackling thunder of course, she nearly runs over a ghastly looking girl standing in the middle of the road. After checking on the catatonic, the supernatural steps in, knocking Miranda out. When she wakes up, she’s a patient in her own asylum, diagnosed by the doctor she almost had an affair with (Robert Downey Jr.) and blamed for the murder of her husband (Charles S. Dutton - it is nice to see the fat man logistically get someone who is hot). Here is where I was throwing wet gummi bears at the screen and booing louder than a crowd would listening to Roseanne Arnold sing our National Anthem again.

Come on. A doctor being treated in the same place where the patients she attended to reside? The absence of plausibility and logic does not stop there. But further spilling of its ludicrousness will “spoil” your entertainment.

Back to the so-called story: the supernatural event turns out to be important. A ghost supposedly helps Miranda unearth what really went down and who is behind her husband’s death. But not before we are supposed to believe the ghost is there to harm her and not give her clues.

The arms of chairs must have words for French director Mathieu Kassovitz. They receive white-knuckled grips in many of his films. The director ostensibly has a knack for instituting a spooky atmosphere (better exemplified in his best thriller, The Crimson Rivers). But his talents fall short here. The unexpected appearance of the ghost is customarily the approach to scaring the audience, but when it is used countless times, it becomes foreseeable and tiresome. The spooky ambience is dominated by thunderstorms and shots of a gloomy hospital at night. Of course, it is always a shame when the cinematography rules over the plot and everything else that is vital for a complete film.

Kassovitz is very talented and should not resort to such revolting material that is best marketed on Blockbuster shelves. Gothika loses all of its steam and wanders off on its own. Everything collapses and the experience is irritating, remotely disheartening, and not to mention tortuous. I have had better times clipping my toenails; so will you.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better. Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better.
  2 out of 5 stars

 
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