Eye For Film >> Movies >> Gothika (2003) Film Review
Reviewed by: David Stanners
Psychologist, Miranda Grey (Halle Berry) leaves work one night and is caught in a storm. She's advised by the sheriff (John Carroll Lynch) to make a detour, but along the way swerves and crashes her car in an attempt to avoid a mysterious girl standing in the middle of the road.
When she awakes in hospital, things have changed. Her husband (Charles S Dutton) has been brutally murdered and she is the prime suspect. When livid scratches appear on her arms, reading NOT ALONE, she is placed under clinical analysis by her junior colleague (Robert Downey Jr) and declared temporarily insane. She finds herself locked up in the mental institution where she works.
Meanwhile, one of her long term patients (Penelope Cruz) alleges she has been raped in her cell by a Satanist. This, along with Miranda's realisation that the little girl on the road must have been a spirit, attempting to guide her somewhere, are more than enough clues.
There are sniffs of The Sixth Sense, The Others and similar generic thrillers, but none of the ingredients deliver a particularly shocking, or frightening experience. There are good technical benchmarks - particularly the camerawork, when Berry is alone - and some nail-biting moments, but, instead of tension building to full throttle, the finale stalls on predictability.
Genre films are never really about acting and so it proves here. Berry is watchable, as always, but isn't exerted, while Cruz and Downey are wasted in small bit parts.
French director Mathieu Kassovitz set the world alight with his 1995 masterpiece La Haine. In this, his first Hollywood outing, he flexes his muscles in a hugely popular (new to him) genre. It's not a bad attempt, but he needs more lessons. I'd recommend a John Carpenter masterclass.Reviewed on: 02 Apr 2004
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