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Gothika (2003)

by on 2011/11/19

“Logic is overrated.”

* *

I watched Gothika years ago. I rented it for obvious reasons – the title.

I’m predictable that way.

Boy, was I disappointed.

It wasn’t gothic. As for the ‘a(aaaa),’ it wasn’t even particularly scary. All it was …was really, really terrible. So much so that I found myself laughing out loud (alone).

I suppose there are worse ways to spend an evening.

November is Remembrance Month on Gothika is a movie about memory. Plus, I remembered my evening filled with derisive laughter fondly, so I fished this Halle Berry vehicle out of a delete bin.

This screening was different. It wasn’t as outrageously awful as I remembered the first time. Please don’t get me wrong – it was still quite bad. However, this time I realized that there were some serviceable to even good elements in Gothika.

The idea is interesting. An uptight, prissy psychiatrist Miranda Grey (Halle Berry) loses her memory and her mind, winding up in the same institution where she worked as a humourless, unsympathetic doctor.

It is set in a dark, stormy institution for the mentally ill. The moody lighting and monolithic, stark concrete corridors were unsettling.

It has the consistently good Robert Downey Jr. (A Scanner Darkly) as fellow doctor, Peter Grey.

I found that there was a few genuinely scary moments – ok, startling – in this screening. Perhaps I’m getting older and things scare me more.

But there was something wrong – so very, very wrong with his movie.

I thought I knew why but I struggled it down. I tried to come up with a better reason. You see, I felt bad for thinking it.

But the reason was right there – as plain as a ghostly warning ‘Not Alone’ carved in my forearm.

H-A-L-L-E  B-E-R-R-Y.

Yes, it was her all along.

Ok, she’s lovely. Really lovely. She’s got that.

But the challenge in this film is she’s not even slightly lovely. Matted hair, haggard eyes, mottled complexion, hospital gown.

Penelope Cruz as Chloe, Miranda’s patient turned fellow best-buddy inmate, is even hideous in this film. Terrible wig, sunken eyes, hospital gown, white socks.

Two of the world’s most beautiful women were rendered into the types of women you’d avoid eye contact with at the convenience store late at night.

You see? I feel bad saying this. But it is true.

I also didn’t believe that Halle Berry was a flinty, revered psychiatrist. Not even a little.

And this good children, is why this movie didn’t and can’t work. Spending 98 minutes of watching a drab, boring, pretty vacant woman shriek and spasm is no picnic. And Ms. Berry is in just about every scene.

Spoiler Alert: There are  also ghosts in this movie. Pfft. The whole lame supernatural element was asking to much of the radical skeptic that rages within me.

Try this dialogue on for size:

Pete: I don’t believe in ghosts.
Miranda: Neither do I, but they believe in me

I mean, really.

Gothika would make a fabulous double bill with The Number 23 – in the Actors Who Single-Handedly Ruined Promising Movies Film Festival.

That is all.

* *

98 minutes

Rated R for really disappointing – also violence, torture and brief nudity

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