Published Nov 01, 2003I knew I was in trouble from the beginning of Gothika, when supposedly accomplished psychiatrists Miranda and Douglas Grey (Halle Berry and Charles S. Dutton) discuss patient Chloe (Penelope Cruz) in tremendously silly and earnest psycho-babble while caressing each other. And it was all downhill from there.
The movie's story centres on Miranda, who wakes up after a strange encounter on a rainy night in the very same psychiatric correctional facility where she works, only this time she's a patient. Apparently, she's killed her husband, though she has no recollection of the event and no possible motive for the act. Suddenly, she finds herself on the wrong side of mental health care, with everyone over-medicating her and no one to believe that she's not really crazy, but rather possessed by the raging spirit of some freaky-looking dead blonde chick.
All alone, Miranda has to figure out a way to distinguish between reality and fantasy, crazy and sane, and get to the bottom of her own behaviour, as well as the strange events that keep occurring around the institution. Rest assured, she learns some very valuable lessons along the way.
Gothika is Halle's show, through and through. She dominates every scene, with her varying hairstyles revealing how "crazy" she is at any given moment. Robert Downey Junior phones in his performance as her doctor, hopefully while looking around for a better project to attach himself to. Director Kassovitz (best known for his acting work as the object of Amelie's desire) uses the same scare over and over again, although he is at least good at not showing us too much, but rather revealing his images in flashes and fragments.
The real culprit here is the script, with its inane dialogue, unsatisfying outcome, awful climax and implausible denouement. (Warner)