"Gothika" tells the story of Dr Miranda Grey (Halle Berry), a respected and well-liked psychiatrist who is happily married to the head of the psychiatric hospital (Charles S. Dutton) where they both work. Everything seems to be perfect in MirandaÂ´s life except that she canÂ´t seem to break through the shell of one of her patients, Chloe (PenÃ©lope Cruz) who is suffering from "severe delusional fantasies" that the devil is visiting her cell each night to rape her. While driving home on a dark and stormy night after a particularly hard session with Chloe, Miranda has a terrifying encounter with a young girl who appears in the road in front of her. Three days later she wakes up to find herself in one of the cells of her own mental hospital, accused of violently murdering her husband and has to desperately prove her innocence, and her sanity ... .
To be thought of as being insane, and especially being unsure of your own sanity, is a nightmarish thought that could be the beginning of a chilling story. And the first 20 minutes of "Gothika" promises just that. Especially as the filmÂ´s production designer Graham Walker and cinematographer Matthew Libatique effectively create the spooky uneasiness and claustrophobic atmosphere of a mental hospital - the perfect setting of a Gothic horror film.
But unfortunately the setting is the only aspect of this film that holds any interest at all. It almost develops a life of its own, which is more than can be said of the characters who all behave irrationally and promote the screenplayÂ´s blaring lack of logic. Even Miranda who is supposed to be proving that sheÂ´s logical and sane says, "Logic is overrated." Obviously thatÂ´s exactly what the scriptwriter thinks, too: Two security guards canÂ´t see Miranda hiding at the bottom of swimming pool, the words "Not Alone" suddenly appear on MirandaÂ´s arms, but her doctors refuse to acknowledge the supernatural nature of the act. In addition, intriguing plot possibilities are ignored or simply not tied together and there too many unanswered questions including the most basic one of all: Who killed MirandaÂ´s husband?
So, after a promising start, this film with its cheap scare tactics, flaws and gaping holes in the plot, quickly falls apart and ends with a ridiculous whimper. And by the way, if youÂ´re thinking of seeing "Gothika" because youÂ´re a Halle Berry fan, you will probably be very disappointed. Berry is good at acting panicked, angry and frustrated in this film and gets a lot of screen time to do just that, but she isnÂ´t believable for one second in the role of a psychiatrist. Admittedly, the poor dialogue script doesnÂ´t help. At one point Dr Miranda Grey provokes a long howl from the audience when she says, "I donÂ´t believe in ghosts but they believe in me."
Sorry, but AVIVA doesnÂ´t believe in one frame of "Gothika". Thumbs down on this film!
Directed By: Mathieu Kassovitz
Starring: Halle Berry, Robert Downey Jr., Charles S. Dutton, John Carroll Lynch, Bernard Hill, and PenÃ©lope Cruz
95 mins Â© 2003 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc