Miss Halle Is BERRY Good In This Odd Thriller, Plot-Twister
Sheila Chilcote-Collins | Collinswood, Van Wert, OH USA | 04/05/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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!"
GOTCHA! (Kind Of...)
Martin A Hogan | San Francisco, CA. (Hercules) | 05/21/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"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???"
This ghost story puts Halle Berry through the wringer
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 05/02/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
""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."
Lonnie E. Holder | Columbus, Indiana, United States | 04/12/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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."