Gothika (2003) Poster

(2003)

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7/10
Don't believe the hype, this is worth a look
mstomaso12 February 2005
Stars operating at the level of Halle Berry and Penelope Cruz are bound to disappoint critics along the way, especially when the critics are just waiting for some sign of weakness upon which to feed. While there is nothing wrong with any of the acting in this film - these are not the kinds of roles Oscar winners and nominees are expected to indulge in.

What's more, Berry and Cruz signed onto a film made by a production team which has typecast itself with some fairly disappointing ghost stories / horror films involving big-names in the recent past.

Finally, this is one of those cases where the trailer was so good that the film could not possibly follow it.

So what?

If you approach this film without expectations, and with an open mind, you will be entertained. It's a tight, disturbing psychological/supernatural thriller which, though a little predictable at times, nevertheless offers some frightening imagery and a few good solid scares. That said, this is not a film for people who have trouble paying attention or for people who need straightforward answers. If you don't really pay attention to what is going on in this film, you could easily dismiss it as a more adult version of Sixth Sense or just another dumb ghost story. This film deserves more credit than that.

Personally, I don't think it's a ghost story at all- but that is a question best left open.

I have seen a number of films by this team - House on Haunted Hill, 13 Ghosts and Ghost Ship. Of these, I found 13 Ghosts and the House on Haunted Hill to be entertaining, but not very intelligent. Ghost Ship was tremendously disappointing - even Gabriel Byrne could not save that film. Gothika is easily the best of the lot, and also the darkest. The film is shot in dark blue, black and gray tones, and the use of lighting is nothing short of artistic. Despite the cliché title, the occasional plot clichés, and all the negative publicity generated by critics, I found this film to be surprisingly entertaining, intelligent, and disturbing.

Most of the 'plot holes' cited by some reviewers here on IMDb are more likely gaps in the attention spans of the viewers themselves or intentional ambiguities designed by the production team. This, unlike any of this team's previous work, does not provide unambiguous explanations.

Cruz and Berry are, respectively, patient and psychiatrist in a high security prison for the criminally insane. The Gothic environment of this facility is not meant to be realistic, but surreal, and the effect works. From the first time you see the place, you question its own reality. The film constantly manipulates mood through cinematographic techniques like this.

Shortly after the film opens, Berry finds herself experiencing what some of her allegedly delusional patients talk to her about. Robert Downey's portrayal of her friend and, now, therapist, is uneven, but satisfactory.

To describe the rest of the plot would require spoilers, so I won't bother. Suffice to say that even the occasional predictability of this film did not detract from my enjoyment of it.

The film uses just enough ambiguity to permit the audience to wonder whether what they are seeing is really happening or whether it is a product of our protagonist's subconscious mind. And then, in the end, the film makes you question whether it matters.
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7/10
Feel the scare, don't look for logic
dromasca12 April 2004
'Gothika' may be looked at as an exercise in style. The plot is about a psychologist in a women's prison who wakes up one day to find herself on the other side of the bars, accused of having murdered her husband. She needs to prove her innocence, but the film is not what you expect. There will be not too much logic in what follows, and the borders between reality and halucination seem to be crossed by the director and script writer, not only by the characters.

What saves the film is the excellent acting of Halle Berry, Penelope, Cruz, Robert Downey Jr., and all the rest of the cast, the haunting setting, and the way the atmosphere is being build. The institution looks like some gothic building from outside, with blue lighted corridors inside creating an appropriate setting for the mood of the characters. Rain seems to poor almost permanently, kind of reflecting the fluid state of mind of the characters.

This film will not be easy to forget for me. Despite its ridiculous script and the conventional way the plot is being solved, the quality of the cinema is above average. Halle Berry is fantastic, and may have bought back her acting in a James Bond movie. Uneven but still memorable. 7/10 on my personal scale.
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6/10
Pschologically creepy, but a little flawed
mjw23058 January 2007
Halle Berry plays brilliant criminal psychologist, Dr. Miranda Grey; an expert in what is rational, logical and sane. After she encounters a mysterious young girl, she finds herself confined to the institute in which she once worked; along side the patients she once treated. She has to rationalise what is real in her own mind, before she loses it forever.

The setting and atmosphere that is created in Gothika is excellent, and the movie is definitely creepy enough to jangle your nerves. Halle Berry, Penelope Cruz and Robert Downey Jnr all fit into their roles nicely; the problem is plain and simple. The storyline and script are too weak to achieve what this movie sets out to do, and because of some lame dialogue and a flawed plot the movie only manages to be decent; when it really should have been great.

6/10 It's still worth watching.
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Misses the mark, but not by much.
mostlygreek29 October 2004
I have read many reviews that seemed to think Gothika was a waste of time. Let me just say, it is not a waste of time. in fact, the film was very enjoyable. it was shot well and the special effects were sophisticated and well handled. The cast was full of surprises such as Bernard Hill(great actor but a strange role). The story was interesting and there was genuine tension throughout.

Berry's character is a doctor in a mental institute. she wakes up to find herself an inmate in the very place she works. Her colleague and friend played by robert downy jnr tells her that she has committed a horrific crime and nobody knows why. so the plot begins to wind its way towards a shadowy truth. However, without giving anything away, the key scenes where important truths are revealed to the audience are simply too clumsy. information is just handed over visually on a plate and leaves little to the imagination. some of the tension built up in

the first half of the film is lost. and the truth isn't quite as gripping and terrifying as we would have hoped(although thats not to

say it is pleasant).

Robert Zemeckis was one of the producers and i think it shows..there is some great camera work and some really interesting ideas but gothika doesn't have some of the subtle touches that What Lies Beneath had, but its easy to see some of the parallels between the two films.

Even though halle berry wears the same look of shocked disbelief throughout the film, she plays it with conviction. and a supporting role from penelope cruz certainly doesn't take anything away from berry.

all in all, gothika provides a good story, an average screen play and enough innovative ideas to keep its audience. but i would have been disappointed if i had paid to watch it at the cinema.
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8/10
You need to see it more than once to appreciate it . . .
mary-sokolowski18 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I'm not sure why so many critics hated this movie. I suspect that it has a great deal with how the movie was marketed. It is not a horror film, plain and simple. It isn't quite a ghost story, either. It is most definitely a psychological thriller. But, most important, I actually think the film delivers a series of important message about what truth means, what sanity means and what the costs are of seeing and understanding the world only with logic and not with your heart and intuition.

When I first saw the film, I was confused--I did not fully comprehend the whole ghost component (perhaps b/c of the misleading marketing). Nevertheless, I was intrigued and have since seen it several times. It gets better. I am using it to teach film (specifically ghost films) in a college level class because it uses and sometimes breaks with cinematic conventions in a way that is rather intelligent. The cinematographic technique is handled well and I appreciated the artful use of tracking shots, match cutting, close-ups. I didn't feel that any one type of shot was overused or misused.

Lighting is another example. Some may find the use of light heavy handed in this film. But I think it is used effectively to underscore the film's themes (academic-knowledge vs. intuitive knowledge; science vs. spirituality/ the supernatural; sanity vs. madness and where the truth fits into that). I also found the lighting downright pretty to look at.

I have read some critiques that mention that the film is preposterous and unbelievable, hinting that these problems stem from the film completely ignoring the conventions of realism. OF COURSE, the film is not realistic. No correctional facility would ever be as dimly lit; no psychiatrist would ever be allowed to be incarcerated with her former patients. I didn't think the plot was preposterous. It's outrageousness--that someone so accomplished as Doug or as boring as the sheriff could actually be sadistic and violent is part of the message . . . all is not as it seems.

The film relies heavily on convention. But I actually found that the intentional use of these conventions very satisfying. Water imagery, lightning storms, eerie music, light/dark, Devil/God, "vision,"--they were all used purposely and to good effect. A good example is the flickering lights--everyone knows that ghosts have electromagnetic effects in ghost movies, but it's how they are used and set up as part of the "science vs. supernatural" theme that makes it interesting. So I wouldn't call this film clichéd. I would say "stylized" and very self-conscious.

The other think I liked upon further viewing is the juxtaposition of normalcy with the cinematic atmosphere of creepiness. There are "realistic" touches in several scenes--for example, Miranda and the guard's chit-chat about swimming and her comment "Say hi to your wife" and the sheriff's "Say hi to Doug for me" as Amanda pulls away from the roadblock for a truly life-changing detour. But these are clearly placed ON PURPOSE into the heavy-handed ominous setting for effect. The effect on me was very de-centering and I found in retrospect that technique itself foreshadowed Miranda's transition from the "sane" to the "insane."

Other details struck me as well: the way you are right in Miranda's head in her relationship with the nurse. In the beginning, they are just typical colleagues, complaining about the lighting problems. But when that nurse came in to give Miranda her "breakfast" of meds, she was so freakin' annoying I could really feel how an asylum might actually enhance insanity. Then the nurse goes on to tell Miranda to take a shower and "Wash away her sins." Never caught that sadistic little exchange on the first viewing. Again--clichéd? I would argue intentionally stylized.

I'll mention one more detail because I think it says a lot. When the guards are searching for Miranda and circling the pool, they are carrying on in Miranda's old, "sane" world—joking, chatting. And one of them comments, "Do professors always nail their pretty students?" This provides a glimpse into Miranda's past life (the assumption being that Doug may have seduced her while she was his student), at the same time that it contrasts the "sane" world of the joking guards and the "insanity" that Miranda is beginning to understand.

Finally, I think the movie is a strong statement to beware of what we think of when we think of mental illness. This is tied to a feminist message—the film uses the stereotype of women as representative of intuition, the soul, heart and spirit and men as the representation of logic, law, God and academic knowledge. During the course of the film, the "male" world is exposed as potentially sadistic and violent; Miranda integrates her "female" heart and intuition to prevail. The movie stays away from making this purely stereotypical since Miranda is in the world of "logic" at the outset. Robert Downey is a liminal character that prevents the movie from saying that all men are sadistic butchers. Plus, Miranda makes a clear choice at the end of the film. She knows and accepts that she can see ghosts (i.e. use her "feminine" powers), but she clearly chooses to return to her "masculine" work rather than chase those ghosts. If she had fully integrated those two sides and ran off with Robert Downey (Mr. Liminality)? Now THAT would have been boring.
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6/10
Excellent Initial Two-Thirds of the Story, But Horrible Conclusion
claudio_carvalho10 December 2004
Dr. Miranda Grey (Halle Berry) is a psychiatrist who works in a penitentiary, in the mental institution sector. She is married with Dr. Douglas Grey (Charles S. Dutton), the chief of department where Dr. Pete Graham (Robert Downey Jr.) also works. Chloe Sava (Penélope Cruz), a patient of Dr. Miranda formerly abused by her stepfather, claims that she is frequently raped by the devil in her cell. After leaving the asylum in a stormy night, Dr. Miranda has a car accident, and when she wakes up, she is an inmate of the institution, being accused of an horrible crime and having no memory of the incident.

This ghost-story has an excellent atmosphere and photography, and the initial two-thirds of the story is really intriguing. I really expected an excellent movie, in the level of "The Sixth Sense", "The Others" or "El Espinazo del Diablo". Unfortunately, the writer got lost with his plot and presented a horrible, almost ridiculous, conclusion of the story. I am a great fan of horror movies and I liked "Gothika", even with such a silly end, but it could have been better and better. My vote is six.

Title (Brazil): "Na Companhia do Medo" ("In the Company of the Fear")
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6/10
Catwoman your way out of the straitjacket, Halle
Coventry5 March 2009
I'm a big fan of horror movies, but deliberately tend to avoid the ones starring A-list actors and actresses. One of the most essential yet unwritten rules of the genre states: the bigger the names involved in the production, the weaker the shocks and the tamer the blood & gore effects. If this statement were an exact science then "Gothika" would be one movie to avoid at all costs, with its all-star ensemble cast including Halle Berry, Robert Downey Jr., Penelope Cruz, Charles S. Dutton, Bernard Hill and John Caroll Lynch. But this really isn't a bad movie at all, in fact, and the acclaimed names seemingly didn't form any restriction for director Mathieu Kassovitz (creator of "The Crimson Rivers" and the brilliant crime thriller "La Haine"). The good news is that "Gothika" is a surprisingly grim and darkly atmospheric ghost story, with a handful of genuinely eerie set pieces and uncomfortable moments. Perhaps it's the influence of the French director, but it honestly feels like the movie aimed for chills & shock rather than to come across as politically correct. The bad news, however, is that the script is weak and incredibly predictable. The first twenty minutes still manage to be somewhat mysterious, but as soon as the ghost-story aspects begin to unfold, the denouement already becomes obvious to slightly experienced horror fanatics. Miranda Grey is a professional psychiatrist working in the same all-girls asylum as her husband; Dr. Douglas Grey. She strongly believes there's a rational explanation for everyone and doesn't really listens to what her patients, Chloë in particular, have to say. Whilst driving home one rainy night, Miranda becomes involved in a nasty car accident because there's a girl in the middle of the road. Next thing she knows, Miranda wakes up as a patient in her own asylum and she's accused of murdering her husband. Shortly after, she has ghostly visions again of the girl she saw on the road, and it seems as if she's trying to tell Miranda something very important, so she better learns to really listen. Even in spite of the sadly transparent and derivative plot, "Gothika" manages to remain compelling and even somewhat engaging. Halle Berry is a marvelous actress (as well as one of the most ravishing women on the planet) and a joy to behold as the 'dame in distress'. She receives excellent support from the always-cool Robert Downey Jr. and I never saw Penelope Cruz deliver a better performance. If I were her, I would accept more crazy-lady roles. This certainly isn't the kind of stuff nightmares are made of, but it's a worthwhile little thriller nonetheless.
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5/10
Average supernatural horror film.
poolandrews6 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Gothika starts one ordinary day in the life of psychiatrist Miranda Grey (Halle Berry), she leaves the mental asylum where she works to go home as normal but finds the road closed off & has to take a detour where she sees a girl on the road who she avoids but crashes her car in the process. Miranda goes to the girl to see if she's OK then... well then Miranda wakes up in the mental asylum where she once worked. Fellow psychiatrist & friend Pete Graham (Robert Downey Jr.) tells her that she is the prime suspect in the brutal killing of her husband Douglas (Charles S. Dutton), all the evidence points to Miranda & the fact she can't remember anything after she crashed doesn't help. While in the asylum Miranda starts to see ghosts that seem to want something, unfortunately talk of ghosts by a mental patient isn't exactly given much credence by the staff...

Directed by Mathieu Kassovitz along with with Thom Oliphant who has an 'Added Scenes' credit I thought Gothika was an OK supernatural murder mystery but nothing spectacular. The script by Sebastian Gutierrez plays like a cross between a ghost film like Poltergeist (1982) & an Agatha Christie murder mystery, it's a somewhat uneasy pairing & the two distinct genres never gel together or compliment each other that well. In my opinion it feels like a little haphazard. The film is a little drawn out too, I'd have liked to have seen it as a 30 minute Tales from the Crypt (1989 - 1996) episode rather than a full length feature. The character's aren't that great with Downey being totally wasted as he just stands or sits in the background & does very little along with fellow mental patient Penelope Cruz who is totally surplus to requirements. I wasn't impressed with the twist ending either & I must admit that I guessed who the villains were quite early on after which it's just a case of dotting the I's & crossing the T's. Having said that it's a reasonable watch & if your stupid & don't guess the twists then it may surprise you.

Director Kassovitz tries to make the audience jump at every opportunity & eventually it seemed like certain scenes were there solely to try & produce a cheap scare. There's a decent atmosphere & there's plenty of flashy camera moves along with it's 'nice to look at' visuals but this has to be the darkest mental hospital ever! It would be interesting to know the extent of Oliphant's involvement & what were the added scenes he directed. The whole film is a little bland & dull as it's very grey without much colour. Forget about any blood or gore, this one tries to rely on scares & shocks rather than special effects.

With a supposed budget of about $40,000,000 Gothika is well made & has that Hollywood look to it which is nice but at the same time it looks very staged & theatrical, no hospital in the world has lighting like the one in Gothika. Personally I can't stand Berry as an actress as I don't think she can act & I don't think she's good looking either, apparently she broke her arm while filming Gothika. The acting was alright but there was nothing special on show.

Gothika is an OK watch in it's own way I suppose, it's passable entertainment but it never gripped me, engaged me or drew me into it's story. At the end of the day Gothika is all rather pedestrian big budget Hollywood flashiness with little substance, just about worth watching I suppose.
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9/10
Very Good Horror/Suspense Film
BrandtSponseller11 January 2005
Miranda Grey (Halle Berry) is a doctor at a psychiatric prison. On the way home one evening, she has to take a detour, and has a supernatural experience that winds up with her being an inmate in the same psychiatric prison, now a patient of her former colleague, Pete Graham (Robert Downey, Jr.). Gothika is an exploration of what happened to Miranda, as she gradually uncovers a mystery.

This was a very effective combination of a horror film and a suspense/thriller for me. I rated it a 9 out of 10, only subtracting one point for a somewhat awkward beginning. While it's not anything particularly groundbreaking, films do not need to be unprecedented for me to enjoy them a lot and give them high ratings.

Visually, Gothika follows the late 90s/early 00s trend of desaturated films that have a predominant color--blue in this case. It creates an atmosphere that works very well for a horror/suspense film of this type, and that is heightened by the Gothic sets and production design (the one shot we get of the exterior of the psychiatric prison makes it look like an old castle). Although the overall structure is more along the lines of a pedestrian thriller, the film adeptly weaves horror and unusual stylistic elements throughout its length, creating a whole greater than the sum of its parts. The performances are good, and the script and direction will keep you guessing most of the time. My only other slight negative criticism is that the ending is somewhat abrupt and could be seen as leaving some loose threads. However, it wasn't enough of a misstep that I subtracted another point--my score remains 9 out of 10.

This is a Dark Castle film, so it's perhaps not surprising that some of the horror-related effects have a similarity to Thirteen Ghosts (2001), House on Haunted Hill (1999) and Ghost Ship (2002). It's also a safe bet that if you liked those films (I loved all three), and the idea of melding them with a thriller, you'll like Gothika as well.
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4/10
Unexpectedly predictable
moopet15 August 2004
Why was this film called "Gothika"? That was never explained, except maybe it sounded cooler and was more likely to attract younger viewers.

Halle Berry is quite good. Certainly she has a nice bottom. Some of the other actors are quite below average.

If you've seen any "ghost" story since THE SIXTH SENSE, you aren't going to be much surprised by this one. It bears more than a small similarity to STIR OF ECHOES in its atmosphere.

Visually moderately appealing, the movie's plot took a turn for the worse about 2/3 of the way through and the final few scenes let it drop off into yawn-inducing territory, I'm afraid.
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8/10
Flawed, familiar but a nicely done horror/supernatural thriller.
hu67519 August 2005
A Brilliant Criminalogist/Psychologist Dr. Grey (Oscar-Winner:Halle Berry) at the mental hospital for woman at Woodward. Then one day, she finds herself as a Patient without knowing why. She finds out that she murdered her husband (Charles S. Dutton) and she has been seeing a Violent Spirit (Kathlenn Mackey) trying to help her to see the truth what happen to Dr. Grey and the Violent Spirit.

Directed by Mathieu Kassovitz (The Crimson Rivers, Hate) made a extremely familiar but a well made stylish supernatural horror film. This is the highest grossing film for Joel Silver (The Matrix Trilogy) and Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future Trilogy) Production Company-Dark Castle Entertainment. Kassovitz shows some strong visual style in the film makes this work. The film gets better with each viewing. One of the highlights is Matthew Libatique's cinematography (Phone Booth, Requiem for a Dream, Tigerland).

DVD has an sharp anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) transfer and an terrific-Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. DVD has an fine audio commentary track by the director and the cinematographer. DVD also features a music video and the theatrical trailer. Berry gives a good performance but she surrounded by an solid supporting cast like Robert Downey Jr., Penélope Cruz, John Carroll Lynch and Bernard Hill. The film is supposed to take place in the Upstate New York but it is nicely filmed in the country side of Montréal. The film doesn't have much logic but for a supernatural horror film, this is nicely done. (****/*****).
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6/10
Scary, reasonably good movie
TheOtherFool19 October 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I'm not too fond of these supernatural thrillers, but I must say Gothika did the job and scared the hell out of me. Mathieu 'Amelie' Kassovitz did a better job than most of the other directors trying to make that 'new Ring'.

Miranda (Berry) works in a clinic as a psychiatrist, only to wake up one day as... a patient. It turns out she killed her husband (and boss... hmm) quite gruesomely. Miranda tries to find out what happened while she is haunted by some spirit.

A couple of plot holes and a silly ending don't make it a particularly good movie, but I had my frights and fun. Better than most comparable movies.

6/10.
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5/10
Okay, But Lacked Something
ccthemovieman-127 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Boy, this started off promising but turned out to be a tough movie to sit through. I talked to several others who saw this film and liked it, but I thought it lacked something even though it had a decent amount of suspense and it entertained, for the most part.

Halle Berry plays a psychiatrist who is accused of murder. Through communicating through ghosts (give me a break!), however, she winds up helping to solve the case and find the real murderer. There were a couple of good twists at the end.

With an interesting cast that also included Robert Downey Jr., Penelope Cruz and Charles Dutton, I still think the film lacked something that made the viewer want to care more.
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10/10
A horror I liked!
ororomunroe18057 May 2004
People really must lighten up about movies. Before they were for pure entertainment, and could be as good or bad as they wanted to be, but they were to be watched for pleasure and not to be scrutinised to death.

Gothika was entertaining; it was fun, scary, sinister and spooky. It was good and if we look over the predictability and insignificant holes then we can maybe see a good movie. The characters were great, Miranda and Chloe heading a thoroughly good cast that carried a more than decent movie. The directing must be given its due credit, and this is a much better movie overall than the mess of 'parodies' and 'romantic comedies' that are tumbling out of the cinema right now like a drowning and persistent tidal wave.

I personally fell in love with the movie after never seeing a horror before in my life. In my mind it reaches to be one of Halle Berry's best movies to date, and my favourite movie of the year so far. Then again I can sit back and let myself enjoy a movie instead of waiting hungrily for holes and bloopers to come out and entertain me instead.

8/10
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7/10
Misses a golden opportunity, but still manages to be solid, spooky fun.
BA_Harrison31 March 2012
In Mathieu Kassovitz's Gothika, Penélope Cruz and Halle Berry share a shower, but DON'T soap up each other's jubblies; that glaring goof aside, the film is a worthwhile supernatural thriller—smartly written, with slick direction, solid acting, and some effective shocks—one that should pass the time fairly painlessly for fans of mainstream horror.

Halle Berry plays penitentiary psychiatrist Miranda Grey who winds up as an inmate herself after she inexplicably chops up her hubby with an axe. With no memory of the murder, Miranda begins to suspect that there is a supernatural reason for her brutal act.

Although the story evolves in a predictable Hollywood manner, the well developed atmosphere, stylish visuals, and some great supporting performances (the aforementioned Cruz, Robert Downey Jr. and Bernard Hill) all go to make this an enjoyable, if not exceptional, creepy murder mystery.

6.5 out of 10, rounded up to 7 for IMDb.
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6/10
It's a creepy movie, with lots of killings and a twisted ending
ma-cortes31 March 2004
It's a horror film from production company called "Dark Castle" , and full of thrills , chills , shocks , twists and turns . In this one plays Halle Berry who is a beautiful but a bit nut head doctor. In addition, it stars the Spanish Penelope Cruz and Bernard Hill, the famous captain of the well known "Titanic¨ picture.

It's a good spooky film which begins with Berry as a physician happily married, who is later locked in a jail framed to kill his husband . Robert Downey Jr. is the doctor who is keen on her . Who is the killer ? , Will be Robert? , Will be Penelope? Will be the same Berry, who in a attack of jealousy murdered her husband? .The title of the film, Gothika is an unofficial term used to describe a form of purgatorial state of mind, a peculiar situation similar to craziness .The film has many shocks and the ending has an outstanding surprise.

The film was lavishly produced by Dark Castle , production specialized on terror genre and in charge of Joel Silver , Robert Zemeckis and Gilbert Adler ; both of them have produced successful terror movies dealing with eerie tales about horror , grisly killings and lots of blood and gore such as ¨House of haunted hill¨, ¨Return to house of haunted hill¨ , ¨13 ghosts¨ , ¨Ghost ship¨, ¨House of wax¨ , Whiteout¨ , ¨Splice¨ , ¨The reaping¨ , ¨Orphan¨ , among others . Although it was not the first Dark Castle Entertainment terror movie to receceive awful reviews and wasn't the last. It was the first, however, and still is, the highest grossing film to be released from the production company with a one hundred forty-one million dollar gross . The motion picture was professionally directed by Matthew Kassovitz , though it resulted to be critically panned . Rating : acceptable and passable. The film will appeal to Halle Berry and Penelope Cruz fans.
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7/10
Riveting Psychological Thriller!
bsmith55523 May 2004
"Gothika" proves that Halle Berry is more than just another pretty face. Her talent is equal to her drop dead good looks. Berry plays psychiatrist Dr. Miranda Grey who is content in her work at an asylum and happily married to her boss Dr. Douglas Grey (Charles S. Dutton). A colleague Dr. Pete Graham (Robert Downey Jr.) also has eyes for the comely doctor.

One night Miranda's world is turned upside down. As she is driving home from work in a rainstorm, she is suddenly confronted by a young girl (Kathleen Mackey) standing in the middle of the road. Miranda's car goes off the road but she manages to return to the young girl. The next thing we see is Miranda waking up in the asylum as a patient and not knowing why she is there. She is told that she is suspected of murdering her husband but can remember nothing.

Dazed and confused and unsure of who to trust, she begins to try and fill in the missing blanks of her memory. Has she really gone mad or did she actually commit the crime? She begins to have flashback visions, especially after she learns the identity of the girl on the road that night. Is there an element of the supernatural at work here or is Mranda actually going mad? Director Mathieu Kassovitz keeps us guessing right up to the surprise ending.

Berry gives a memorable performance as the confused doctor. She alternates between rational and irrational behavior in convincing fashion. Penelope Cruz plays a patient that Miranda had been treating and whom she meets "on the inside". Downey does the best he can with his part as the doctor who might know more about Miranda's situation than he lets on. John Carroll Lynch plays Sheriff Ryan who had been close personal friends with the Greys, and who turns on Miranda when she is charged with the murder of her husband. Others in the cast include Dorian Harewood as Miranda's lawyer and Bernard Hill as the chief psychiatrist.

There are elements of the supernatural mixed into the plot to be sure, but it is the lovely and talented Halle Berry that makes this film memorable.
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1/10
Halle Gets Wigged Out
robertconnor26 May 2005
One rainy night, Halle Berry crashes her Saab and wakes up in a bad movie with Robert Downey Jr. and a bad wig. Lights flicker menacingly and steely grey corridors echo with the sound of Ms. Berry crying 'help, I've fallen down another plot hole'...

Whilst French actor-director Kassovitz has assembled an interesting support cast (Dutton, Carroll Lynch, Hill, Harewood), as with his previous thriller Les Rivières Pourpres (The Crimson Rivers) he is completely hamstrung by a ludicrous and implausible story. Often an interesting actor, here Downey Jr. tries for ambiguous but ends up just plain creepy (contrast with Jeff Bridges in Jagged Edge) although Cruz fares better, playing against type for once to some effect.

And Ms. Berry? Let's just say that for all her wild bewilderment and wide-eyed fear, she is ultimately defeated by that ridiculous fake hair-do.

Yikes!
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7/10
It's pretty good, but they could've gone more in depth
Smells_Like_Cheese4 May 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Over all, I thought it was a decent movie. Very rarely can a ghost story go far, but I was impressed with the acting. Most of the movie is very predictable, but I don't judge on that. What I thought they were missing though was more of the story. The beginning is well paced, although I wanted a little more. I got past it though. The middle of the movie was great, there was a lot of excitement and action. Then comes the end. It was very predictable and a little quick. I felt like they could've explained more.

SPOILER

I was a bit confused on how Halle Barry was proved innocent, because the other killer was killed by her. The only proof was the tattoo's, but that could've been a coincidence.

Over all, it was a great story. But like I said, I thought they could've done more.

7/10
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Crappika
Chrysanthepop6 February 2008
Didn't expect a talented guy like Kassovitz to make just another pretentious Hollywood piece of crap. That's what 'Gothika' is. It pretends to be one of those psychological horror/thrillers that makes you think (yeah right!). It's got all those silly twists and wannabe 'jump' moments. The cast is wasted. Halle Berry hams in several sequences but otherwise she's okay. She screams a lot. Penelope Cruz does well with her lack-of-substance role and Robert Downey Jr. is wasted. The ending (which brings the level towards further crap) suggests another horrible sequel. Special effects are alright and the background score just adds to the pretense. However the one thing I liked is the cinematography. The long quick shots were quite impressive. Given the concept, Kassovitz could have made a very engaging film. However, it's a pity that he made it for the that section of Hollywood fans who like pretentious crap.
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10/10
A chilling atmospheric thriller...... superb in every way
bedshapedboy19868 August 2004
I have to say that I had pretty low expectations for this film, having read a lot of negative critical reviews, and I have to say, having seen this film, I am really at a loss to words as to what they thought was so bad about it.... I really, really enjoyed it.It is brilliantly acted and directed. Halle gives a flawless performance, her second best to that in Monster's Ball. She is absolutely superb in this movie. It is an unbelievably stylish, clever and satisfying horror flic, and undoubtedly the best I've seen in a long, long time, possibly since The Others, which I adored. Miss it at your peril. There are some fantastic special effects, great twists, and gorgeous cinematography. The atmosphere throughout the whole film is beautifully Gothic. The supporting cast are very competent, particularly. Penelope Cruz whom I never really warmed to before,but was excellent here. At times the dialogue is disappointing but otherwise, a brilliant film... I recommend it to any lover of good, fun horror, that is still intelligent.
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If you don't mind lame endings.... (spoilers)
fred-28722 November 2003
Warning: Spoilers
In overall style and tone this movie reminded me somewhat of "In Dreams" from a few years back, also with Robert Downey Jr. (in a much meatier role as a psycho killer). There's that same claustrophobic sense of escape-proof doom closing in on one, even more so here since it mostly occurs inside the one penal facility. So long as you don't ask too many impertinent questions along the way, it's not the worst little thrill ride ever. But the ending, oy vay....

Halle Berry, whose vehicle this clearly is, plays a shrink working at an institution that looks and sounds like a prison (at least the way Europeans like director M. Kassovitz envision our prisons) but whose residents all seem to be female mental patients who've committed crimes. She's married to Charles Dutton, who runs the place and who seems too old for her, but never mind. Another shrink working there (Downey) seems to have a minor crush on her. Driving home in a big storm, Berry has to detour to a quaint little bridge (the significance of which develops later) where she has an encounter with a strange woman (the trailer made it pretty clear she's a ghost). Next thing she knows, it's three days later and she's on the other side of the locked door in her own facility, accused of the murder of her husband.

This switcheroo aspect was the most fascinating for me personally, having known people who've been committed and the frustrations and indignities they endure in that anything they say or do is simply taken as further evidence of the conclusion that's already been reached about them. But we're also asked to swallow an awful lot, e.g. that a respected staff member (as Berry is depicted) gets plopped down amongst the same people with whom she'd just been working with no regards for her personal safety, with all her former colleagues ready to assume the worst about her. Berry is great at what she's asked to do, which is look confused and/or terrified most of the time, but it's a shame she wasn't required to do more. One might have thought her supposedly bright character would have done better at putting her knowledge and experience to good use for herself, especially since she clearly knew the Downey character had a crush on her.

Since this is a Dark Castle production, we expect a situation with not just frequent power failures and ghosts walking in herky-jerky motion but also Deep Dark Secrets to be uncovered. Berry gets to do just that after one of the most contrived escapes ever recorded on film, including a scene where she hides in a swimming pool for what seems half an hour (she must have gills as well as lungs) and since the guards walk AROUND the pool but don't think of aiming their flashlights INTO it, they don't see her. Then another guard instantaneously becomes her accomplice and even gives her his car keys, presumably throwing his career away and risking prosecution, but hell, she's just so darn cute, it's understandable. She then lickety-split manages to learn ........................ I guess this would be a major SPOILER coming up.......................................................................... ..................... that her loving husband was actually a serial killer and torturer of women literally under her nose (in the basement of their vacation spot). Nice powers of observation, Doc! But we know how it is with guys and their hobbies, right, getting obsessed and all...

After that it's mostly the standard cat-and-mouse stuff as we wait endlessly for the second killer to get revealed; we know it's not Downey 'cause that'd be too obvious & that really only leaves one candidate. The bloody climax is staged pretty well but then ... HERE COMES THE LAME ENDING...................................................................... ............................................................................ ................. it's a year later and we see Berry and her chief patient, played by Penelope Cruz from "Vanilla Sky," strolling and chatting merrily down the street. (To remind us that time has passed, Cruz's hair is a lot longer and Berry's is a lot shorter.) How Berry walked away from killing two people is neatly ignored, unless maybe the ghost obligingly testified in her behalf. Cruz's character is also a killer and doesn't have any ghosts to blame, but in Canada, where this was filmed, maybe it's like Europe and murder only gets you about a seven-year sentence anyway.

Bottom line: for hard-core Berry fans, this is a must-see. For everyone else: worth a look but don't spend more than the price of a matinee, or wait for video/DVD. If only they'd come up with a ballsy ending like the one in "In Dreams," or given Downey more to do. I'll admit I'd rather have seen him in "Singing Detective" than this, but when ya live in the boonies, ya cope the best ya can.....

Right at the end a shot of a boy and a bus hints at a sequel; be forewarned......
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1/10
"Gothika" An Absolute Mess
jharvey-42 April 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I had such high hopes for "Gothika". The trailers depicted a slick, dark horror / thriller starring Halle Berry, Penelope Cruz, and Robert Downey Jr. The concept was especially intriguing as well. A psychiatrist (Halle Berry) at a women's penitentiary for the criminally insane has a horrible accident and wakes up as a patient in the asylum where she works (I'm glossing over some spoilers here). From there, she has to piece together why she is there and what is happening to her. As story ideas go, it's really pretty good and mostly original.

The first half of the movie moves along at a nice, brisk pace and there's some decent jump-out-of-your-seat scares thrown in for good measure. Penelope Cruz logs a credible performance as one of the more psychotic inmates at the penitentiary and Robert Downey Jr. (in the role of another psychiatrist) also does some nice work.

I'd like to say that Halle Berry also puts in a good performance (this film is her vehicle, after all)...but I can't. Though, it's hard to say whether it's her fault or the limitations of the script. During her pre-accident scenes she seems stiff and sterile in the role of criminal psychiatrist. It's like she's marking time until the meaty, scary scenes start up. This makes it even harder for the audience to invest feelings into her character (because Berry certainly doesn't). After she has the accident she spends a great deal of time running and screaming. It's a very operatic and aerobic performance, but I wouldn't go so far as to call it "acting".

But these are not my biggest problems with the movie. "Gothika" actually does a good job of building suspense and mystery. You sit there thinking "Wow! I wonder how they're going to tie all this together." And "Gothika" responds with a ten-minute cinematic equivalent to the 50-yard dash, which reveals everything you need to know about the entire plot without actually thinking about it. There's none of the sly hints or gradual revelations we saw in "The Sixth Sense". The film's whole plot lands at your feet like someone shooting a possum out of a tree. It would have been a little less disappointing had the big "twist" been believable or even interesting, but it isn't. It just isn't.

Unfortunately, this happens a little over halfway through the movie and it's hard to imagine what they'll do with the remaining 45 minutes or so. The answer (without giving anything away) is Hollywood. It's a fast, generic, and an utterly lame conclusion that amounts to sticking a big, gaudy red bow onto a movie that started strong, but ends even more unbelievably than most low-budget horror films.
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1/10
Uninspired and Pointless
drsalem7224 November 2003
Think of any 10 of the better horror movies/psychological thrillers you can. Now pick the better or more memorable scenes from each. Now slap them together in your mind and picture what that would be like as a movie. Odds are it's at least twice as good as Gothika.

Gothika is the story of Dr. Miranda Grey, a psychologist at some sort of prison, the best they have in fact (cliché #1). She ends up becoming an inmate in that very prison when her husband is found brutally murdered and she is the only suspect (yawn, cliché #2). Many more clichés follow as the story unfolds. Other characters, include Robert Downey Jr. as "the colleague/friend (who happens to be the 2nd best doctor at the prison) who becomes her doctor and wants to help her because he loves her even though he doesn't believe her story", and Penelope Cruz as "the crazy inmate/ex-patient of Miranda's who becomes her only friend on the inside when everyone else thinks she's guilty and/or crazy." There are more, but I won't name them all.

The scares in this movie were cheap and blatantly telegraphed to the point where I laughed out loud at the people in the theater who jumped. The plot twists were extremely predictable as well. No real shock when the villain is revealed because if you just look at all the people in it, this person is probably the most obvious choice to play a villain in a movie of this genre. Even if you can't figure it out, the scene where it is revealed that this person is the villain is so drawn out that Halle Berry is definitely the last one to figure it out.

As if we didn't have enough of a mess on our hands already, now you have to figure in the supernatural elements of the film. That's right, ghosts, spiritual presences, whatever you call it, it's there, and it's utterly ridiculous.

Overall, the story couldn't seem to get out of its own way. The story is like a bad rendering of what it would be like to throw The Sixth Sense, Kiss the Girls, The Life of David Gale, The Fugitive, and at least 10 other movies just like those into a blender and hit puree.

The number one area where this movie fails is the writing. The direction isn't all that great either, but the writing is the big one. The acting was decent. Everyone did the best they could with what little they were given to work with. Some of the characters seemed downright pointless when all was said and done, namely Robert Downey Jr. and Penelope Cruz.

I watched this movie with a group of friends, and it was pretty clear that during the movie some of them were enjoying it while I was yelling profanities at the screen. However, one of them indicated to me that the determining factor in whether or not they would like it was how it ended. The ending was even worse than I had anticipated. It left the five of us sitting in the theater, scratching our heads saying `What? Why?'
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1/10
Don't even Bother
mearcat19 May 2005
This is an awful film, full of plot holes and poor acting. the ending is sudden and unexpected and downright silly. Even the ghost does not understand the plot !.The majority of scenes do lend themselves to a slightly uncomfortable mood , but most of the shocks are just the same old build up of dramatic music then the compulsory pop up scare.I love a good scary phsycological thriller but this one left me confused and laughing at the suddenness of the ending. I was left wandering if the producers had run out of money or something.The acting is cheesy and uninspiring. I don't even know what Downeys character had to do with the plot, it was as if he had paid somebody to be in it.This is an easily forgettable film which i purchased by mistake and my DVD copy has been furiously boiled in my kettle. Don't rent it or buy it unless you want a film to complain and moan about.
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