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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Miss Halle portrays a prison psychiatrist, Charles S. Dutton her boss, husband & love of her life, Robert Downey, Jr. as her peer/collegue, & Penelope Cruz as an inmate/patient with some schizophrenic delusions of the devil, himself, burning/entering her body.
As it starts - It was a dark & stormy night...
From there things get really creepy & all mixed up. What is true? What is imagined? Who is crazy? Who is not? A dead girl, a tatooed man, an invisible being, blood written messages on a wall, an axe...Lots of really graphic images PLUS totally spooky lighting all add to the experience.
This film has you trying to figure out the plot from the get go & has many "red herrings"... Once the plot is alluded to, however, the film starts to unravel faster and faster to it's eventual, but not totally predictable end.
The only thing that I couldn't figure out is why they titled this movie, GOTHIKA. It is only said a total of ONE time in the whole of the film.
Regardless, this movie has plenty of punch, a couple of jumpy parts, some sado-masochism and at the end it is actually left open for a possible sequel, which I wouldn't mind seeing...
If you liked Stir Of Echoes, The Sixth Sense, or The Others, you will certainly enjoy this gem! Happy Watching!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2004
This was one of those movies that somehow, I'd never even heard of it when it was in the theaters but when strolling through a DVD store one day and seeing Halle Berry on a cover, it immediately drew my attention to this great movie. That being said, this is a fairly good psychological/super natural type thriller that doesn't suffer greatly from the predictability factor and in general entertains from the first scene to the last with some seriously intriguing twists.
Performance wise, Halle Berry definitely gives and outstanding performance in this film showing a range of acting I'd previously not thought her capable of. Everybody's favorite addict in Robert Downey Jr. performs well in this movie albeit a somewhat subdued role for him in comparison to previous roles I've seen him in. Charles S. Dutton's role in this film is fairly limited which unfortunately doesn't give him much opportunity to show off his talents. Penelope Cruz's performance is fairly limited in this film as well!
This is the first film directed by Mathieu Kassovitz that I've watched and I would definitely have to say that his films may be ones to watch out for as this film is presented in a wonderful manner from beginning to end.
The Premise:
Halle Berry plays criminal psychologist Dr. Miranda Grey who works at Woodward Penitentiary for Women. She appears to be a highly respected employee at the prison and is married to her boss, Dr. Douglas Grey (Charles S. Dutton). Not long after leaving work and heading home in a storm she nearly runs someone over in the middle of the road and has an accident... She wakes up a few days later to find that she's now a patient in the penitentiary that she worked in and she's been accused of killing her own husband...
What follows from there is a well made psychological/super natural thriller that will, as stated above, entertain from the very first scene to the last as the story is extremely well scripted, directed and played out by the actors. I highly recommend this film to any and all who enjoy films in this genre! {ssintrepid}
Special Features:
-Commentary by Director Mathieu Kassovitz and Director of Photography Matthew Libatique
-Limp Bizkit "Behind Blue Eyes" Music Video
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
In this horror/thriller, Halle Berry stars as Dr. Miranda Grey, a Psycologist at a women's prison. Charles S. Dutton is the Prisons Administrator. Or at least I THINK it is a prison as opposed to a mental hospital...it's never really explained and is one of the very mind numbing problems you encounter while watching this movie.
Anyway, on her way home from work on a "dark and stormy night" Gray swerves her car to miss a girl standing in the middle of the road. When she approaces the girl to see if she is OK, the girl bursts into flames and Gray wakes up three days later, locked in the very prison she worked at. What's more, she is accused of murdering her husband.
OK...now I finad it hard to believe that she would be remanded to a prison IMMEDIATELY...would she not be held in jail to await trial? Would it not take more than a few days for her to be examined by psychiatrists to determine her mental well-being?
And even if she was locked up, does anyone think that she would be locked up and put in with the very inmates who she used to work with? Gothika pushes logic to the limits.
Well, while locked up she begins getting ghostly visions of this girl. Of course her former co-worker Dr. Graham played by Robert Downey jr., believes these are just delusions.
The ghost is more than helpful, twice freeing Gray from her cell so she can pursue clues about the spirit. This leads to the revelation that a man with a tatoo of a woman on fire, is somehow raping women inside the prison and Gray is next on his list.
In yet another incredible stretch of logic, while gray escapes from her cell pursued by dozens of guards, she finally makes it to the guard at the front desk who she is friendly with. Rather than turn her in the guard not only keeps quiet, but actually gives her the keys to her car!!! Evidently he seems to have no problem throwing away his car and aiding an escaped inmate.
Well the clues all come together and reveal some shocking revelations about her husband and the identity of the rapist. But how can this rapist just come and go into high security areas of the hospital/prison? Don't ask...it's another one of brain dead plot threads.
Finally we see that Gray never does go to jail for her husbands murder. Evidently possession by a vengeful ghost is a viable murder defense these days. Incredible.
The ghostly images provide a few chills but you've seen the plot before about the dead wanting the living to solve the mystery of their deaths and bring the guilty to justice. Stir of Echoes did it much more skillfully.
Berry made a poor choice of scripts to follow up on an Oscar win. There is little suspense and it's very easy to early on to figure out who is rapist. Couple this with one of the dumbest scripts ever and this is one that is worth a rent only.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Director Mathieu Kassovitz pours on the atmosphere (literally) in this sci-fi thriller set in a dreadfully gloomy mental institution that needs a serious makeover. It seems to never stop raining or lightning - ever! It's dark and scary and the lights are always on the kaput. Can't someone change those light bulbs! Won't somebody check those darn circuit breakers? Halle Berry acts herself crazy (again, literally), but hey, Halle, lay off that Botox if you want some more facial expressions! Halle sees a beaten woman driving home one (stormy) night and crashes into a tree. She wakes up in the same hospital as a patient and a criminal for killing her husband (her boss). Is she really crazy or is this a plot? Did some coworker inject her with mind-altering drugs? Why is Robert Downing, Jr. playing a smaller role here? Why is he speaking with that weird accent? Did Halle imagine that girl on the road? Oops! - remember "What Lies Beneath? I think it's the same girl! The rest of the film is a run and chase sequence where Halle discovers who is really dead and who should be. There are also some really disgusting revelations as to what happened to some missing people and it's all gleefully recorded on film! Remember the movie, "8MM"? Eeewww! There is somewhat of a happy ending (if only because it finally stops raining!), but then Halle sees another child in a dangerous situation - or is it a ghost? Or, is it Haley Joel Osment? Is she seeing `dead people' too? Why do their first names sound the same? Is that part of the plot too? Remember "The Sixth Sense"? Remember every other horror movie cliche from the last ten years? What in God's name is happening here???
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
One of the truly great features of this movie is how confusing it is during the first half. Halle Berry, playing Miranda Grey, is struggling to know whether she has suddenly become insane, or whether something else is going on. It takes her a while, but eventually she realizes that, as improbable as it seems, a ghost is haunting her.
Miranda Grey is a psychiatrist. She deals with people who behave strangely and often have a hard time dealing with reality. She drives home one day and encounters a girl in the road, but her encounter is weird. The next thing we know, Miranda is waking up in a hospital, accused of murdering her husband. The next portion of the movie is designed to make you confused, mirroring Miranda's own confusion. Who really killed Miranda's husband? Why was Miranda's husband killed? Is there really a ghost or is Miranda insane? Why does the ghost keep writing "Not Alone?"
The movie does plod a bit, but the plodding is intended to give you time to think about the movie and what is happening, allowing you to add to your own confusion. It takes about half the movie for the viewer to become convinced that a ghost really haunts Miranda, which is about the time that Miranda herself realizes that she is being haunted. Once Miranda catches on that the ghost wants her to do something, then the movie enters a whole new phase. Fortunately the ghost is working with her to help answer all the questions that the viewer asks in the first half of the movie, including what I thought was a chilling ending that I did not see coming.
Portions of the movie are predictable, and we are left with a plot hole big enough to drive a bus through, but I still found the movie enjoyable and would recommend it to people who like horror movies that make you think. Even if you find the ending predictable, then you can pat yourself on the back about how well you figured it all out from the clues sprinkled throughout the movie. A solid four star effort.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2004
Somewhere in this gloomy picture they're may be a decent women's prison exploitation flick. But as a horror film, the movie seems unable to settle into a niche of the gender before abandoning it and exploring another. At once, film noir, simple detective, horrific, "Gothika" changes hands like a deck of flip cards out of chronological order, finally settling on a bizarre plea of social conscience. Before then the movie is often just flip. When a local newspaper's banner front page headline reads, "Local Girl Commits Suicide", the fine line between black and white isn't grey, but completely colorless.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 2004
I was really looking forward to watching and liking Gothika, since I enjoy good ghost stories on one hand, and have a soft spot for French directors in general on the other. And being Mathieu Kassovitz's first English language film as a director (the same director who brought us the excellent La Haine and The Crimson Rivers),my expectations were built even more.
But I have to admit that I was sorely disappointed with the film, and this is why,
Although Kassovitz's direction was not bad , the main problem I believe, lies firmly at the hands of screenwriter Sebastian Gutierrez (who has directed Judas Kiss and is now writing the remake of the masterpiece The Eye). He managed to write a script that is totally predictable,lacking any originality or a fresh treatement of old plotlines.
In any horror film, there is a moment early on,when the tension starts to build up, gripping the viewer increasingly until the end. I kept looking for that moment in Gothika to start, where I would be totally immersed and involved in the story, but it never came.
Moreover, I am surprised how bland the whole film is..The evil girl/ghost who has comeback to seek revenge on her killer through someone else is a concept that is still very fresh in viewer's mind from quite recent films, (The Ring, What Lies Beneath, The Eye!!), while the girl looks exactly like the ghost in The Ring but with blond hair..She even has the same expressionsand look!!!
The script also has unforgivable flaws..For instance the ambiguous relationship between Berry and Downey Jr was badly treated, and at the end he just disappears when I expected a proper conclusion that will clear it.
The ending was quite silly!! (and I thought De Niro's tattoos in Cape Fear were over the top!!!)...the Scream reference was quite obvious but very weakly done.
There was also a reference to Sixth Sense right at the very last scene, but it was too predictable and also very silly..So was the supernatural writing on the arm (Not Alone) straight from the 'Help Me' in Exorcist..
Halle Berry 's acting was good as you expect from this wonderful actress, and it is always good to see such a fine actor and actress like Bernard Hill and Penelope Cruz who is gorgeous and sweet in whatever role she is in, but all these talents were sadly wasted.
I know Mathieu Kassovitz can deliver a much better film than this with a good solid script, which unfortunately he did not have.
If you love ghost stories as much as I do, then by all means stick to the classics of the genre like The Innocents, The Others, The Eye or even BWP and forget about this one because the only tension and anxiety you will feel is through constantly looking at your watch, hoping time might pass just quicker.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon November 27, 2003
I'm not an aficionado of scary, slasher flicks. But Halle Berry is too much of a Babe to pass up in GOTHIKA. Besides, my Mom, a former prison psychiatrist, wanted to see it.
Berry plays Dr. Miranda Grey, a shrink on the staff of a women's penitentiary that has all the ambience of a Transylvanian castle. Driving home on a dark and stormy night - hey, is there any other kind in this genre? - Miranda swerves into a ditch to miss a young woman standing in the road. Upon asking the near-victim if she's OK, Miranda observes that she's been physically abused. Then, the woman undergoes spontaneous combustion. Miranda next wakes up to find herself an inmate on her own psycho ward, under arrest for chopping her husband (Charles Dutton) up into little pieces, and in the care of a former colleague (Robert Downey, Jr.).
Berry's performance makes the film great fun to watch despite a preposterous storyline that, at the end, had me saying "Yeah, but ..." about too much of what I'd seen. And the set designers weren't at all subtle in their use of flickering lights, shadows, and general gloominess. I had to check to see if I'd inadvertently left my sunglasses on for the show. Perhaps the prison was economizing on the use of electricity after being forced into the California Plan. Really scary stuff is sometimes more effective in full daylight because it's less expected.
Penelope Cruz, another hottie in my book, appears as Chloe Sava, an inmate accused of cutting her stepfather's throat, and who claims to being repeatedly raped by the devil in her prison cell. While this is a clue to the endgame, it added nothing to the plot's credibility. In retrospect, it was just another "Huh?" that defies understanding if you think about it too much.
Downey's performance was unremarkable, and his Dr. Graham character serves only as straight man to Miranda's more frenetic moments.
GOTHIKA is a chilling ride on which Halle Berry is pretty much the only driver. Keep the DVD release in mind next Halloween as something to watch while waiting for those pesky trick-or-treaters.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
"Gothika" is one of those movies that is not as bad as you heard that it was although certainly it has some major problems. For one thing the movie tries so relentlessly to be eerie with all the spooky lighting and music that it threatens to be carried along by the style rather than the substance. Then there is the fact that we know that in the "real world" a prison psychiatrist is not going to end up in the same prison where they practiced if the world decides that they are insane. Doing so would mess up the treatment of every patient she had been working with, so we know that Halle Berry's Miranda Grey is there for a reason, which gets us thinking ahead of the plot and trying to figure out whodunnit. Is director Mathieu Kassovitz being so heavy handed that he is obvious or is he skillfully setting up a red herring? Good question. You can answer it for yourself after you see the film.
Miranda is a psychiatrist in a dark and dreary prison where we are introduced to her as she is working with patient Chloe Sava (Penelope Cruz). Miranda seems clinical and cool, if not cold. One of the other staff psychiatrists, Pete Graham (Robert Downey Jr.) seems interested in her, but she has recently wed her boss, Dr. Douglas Grey (Charles S. Dutton). That night, after taking a swim in the prison pool, she drives home during a thunderstorm and is forced to take a detour. The figure of a ghostly girl appears in the middle of the road and Miranda crashes her car. Miranda tries to help the girl, who looks like she has been the victim of something horrible, but then the girl bursts into flames. The next thing Miranda knows she wakes up a prisoner in her own institution where she is told by Pete that she has been accused of brutally murdering her husband with an axe. Miranda remembers nothing.
Chloe explains to Miranda that once you are declared to be officially insane anything you say will automatically be considered to be the ravings of a lunatic. Miranda is put in the impossible position of convincing her captors that she is sane. However, that is really not much of a problem because she is so distraught and confused that she convinces both herself and the viewers that maybe she is insane, and if that is true, then maybe it is true that she killed her husband. Berry's performance bounces back and forth between screaming hysteria and a guarded detachment in an effort to survive everything that is being thrown at her by not only the authorities trying to convict her of murder but also of her own mind. For those that thought Berry's Oscar for "Monster's Ball" did not prove she was a real actress, "Gothika" proves she is clearly more than a pretty face.
There is a paradox in this film, what some may consider a fatal flaw, in that in the final analysis all of the pieces do not fit. Even once you know what is going on it does not really explain everything that is happening. Watch the film a second time and you will see this is clearly the case. However I think this was really more a question of keeping us guessing rather than having problems with story construction. Kassovitz and screenwriter Sebastian Gutierrez are developing a sense of mystery and terror that literally extends to the end of the film where the final scene provides another piece of what is really an unfinished puzzle. Listen to Kassovitz's commentary on this DVD and he will repeatedly talk about what they did to make individual scenes scary, without a clear regard for what it meant for the logic of the film. Either you buy into the end result or this movie is going to grossly offend you. There probably is not going to be any middle ground on this one.
Final Note: Kassovitz earns points by filming a group shower scene with Berry, Cruz, and over a dozen other women that is totally in keeping with the atmosphere of the film. These women are all naked, but the scene is filmed in such a way that they are not nude (that will make sense when you see it). When that scene started I was mentally rolling my eyes at what I thought was going to be coming up next and Kassovitz simply did not go there. That says something.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
OK, I heard a lot of negative things about this movie, so I put off seeing it. What got me to finally watch it was the fact that I love Halle Berry. I could watch her in just about anything! In GOTHIKA, Miranda Grey (Ms. Berry) is a psychologist who has a head-on collision with the supernatural. On her way home from work (at Woodward Penitentiary for Women), she gets caught in a torrential rainstorm, is detoured, and almost hits a girl standing in the middle of the road. Miranda swerves around the girl and into a ditch. After climbing out of her car, she goes to the girl to make sure she's alright. The girl spontaneously catches fire and puts her flaming hands on Miranda, causing her to black out. Upon waking, Miranda finds herself incarcerated in the very penitentiary she works in, sedated, and accused of murdering her husband (Charles S. Dutton), who also happens to have been her boss. Things get really weird from here! Miranda is visited several times by the ghost-girl from the road and given clues to what's really going on. Can she put the pieces together before being tried for a murder she barely remembers? Robert Downey Jr. plays a subdued role as Miranda's doctor and former colleague. Penelope Cruz is Miranda's ex-patient turned fellow inmate, who has clues of her own to share. Why did Miranda kill her husband? How can she escape her prison in order to work out this mystery? The answers to these questions are the ice-cold backbone of this story. Bathed in darkness, rain, and blue-filtered light, Gothika wears it's forboding spirit on it's sleeve. However, it's well done and Halle bumps this movie up a few notches just because she's in it. She's a dominant force and carries the film well. A spooky thriller-chiller...
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