Director – Mathieu Kassovitz
Cast – Halle Berry, Robert Downey Jr., John Carroll Lynch, Charles S. Dutton, Bernard Hill, Penelope Cruz
Release Year – 2003
Reviewed by John of the Dead
This was my first time watching Gothika since it debuted back in 2003, and despite this being a very easily accessible film I just did not want to afford myself the 98 minutes required to watch it again for review. I normally try to stay away from horror/thrillers that involve A-list actors given the films usually aim to appeal to the general public, which I have always found to be a bad idea if you want to deliver some good horror. However, Gothika was surprisingly effective in numerous ways and despite not being very scary it did give me a mostly-enjoyable storyline that along with positive direction made for a mostly-positive film in the end.
After suffering a car crash under mysterious circumstances, psychiatrist Dr. Miranda Grey(Halle Berry) finds herself imprisoned in the very same psych ward she works at – learning that she committed a heinous crime that she not only has no recollection of, but comes with supernatural tendencies involving a terrible secret close to home.
You should know by now that I love horror films that involve the supernatural, as well as psychology, and Gothika managed to blend both of those for me fairly well. Much like The Ward and Fragile, we are thrown into a psych ward with a haunting past of sorts, and it affects our main protagonist in “insane” fashion. I enjoyed the idea of Dr. Grey being committed to the very institution she worked at, an idea I had never seen before, and while it did not necessarily result in any more horror than another setting it was a unique idea that allowed me to find joy in her dilemma – as screwed up as that sounds.
Director Matthew Kassovitz did a fairly good job executing this piece, giving us great atmosphere with dark and gloomy sets that set the tone to provide some good scares. Sadly his execution of the scares was not very good and I found no scare sequences worth mentioning in positive fashion, but overall I was impressed that he at least provided good atmosphere. Halle Berry was positive in her role, as was Robert Downey Jr., John Caroll Lynch, and Charles S. Dutton, with each of them providing mostly-positive performances that thankfully did not get as cheesy as I expected them to be given this is a very Hollywood film.
Overall, Gothika is a film that could have been much better had better scare sequences been written and executed into the experience, but overall it is a mostly-positive flick that was much better than I expected it to be, making it at least worth a one-time view if you have nothing better to watch.