Gothika

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Cast:
Halle Berry as Miranda Grey
Robert Downey Jr as Pete Graham
Charles Dutton as Douglas Grey
John Carroll Lynch as Sheriff Ryan
Bernard Hill as Phil Parsons
Penelope Cruz as Chloe Sava
Dorian Harewood as Teddy Howard
Bronwen Mantel as Irene
Kathleen Mackey as Rachel Parsons
Matthew G Taylor as Turlington
Michel Perron as Joe
Andrea Sheldon as Tracey Seavers
Anana Rydvald as Glass Cell Nurse

Summary:
Despite the best intentions of all involved, Gothika is a supernatural, cliché-riddled mess that provides more questions than answers.

Story:
Dr. Miranda Grey is a psychologist working at Woodward Penitentiary for Women. Under the direction of her husband Doug, the chief administrator of the psychiatric ward, Miranda treats disturbed patients like Chloe, a murderer whose confessions of satanic torture are dismissed by Miranda as paranoia.
Miranda’s world is turned upside down after a chance encounter with a young girl near a bridge one rainy evening. Following the meeting, Miranda finds she has become a patient in her own prison hospital – Her husband has been murdered and she is the number one suspect. She must use her instincts and help from co-workers to figure out the riddle of what has happened.

Gothika is rated R for violence, brief language and nudity.

What Worked:
Very little. The performances across the board were ok, but the cast just didn’t have much to work with. I felt the story had more potential than the script got across. The big plot turn was interesting, but it was telegraphed. You knew something was coming… maybe not what exactly… but something. For fans of the new ‘clothing optional’ Halle Berry, you’ll likely be disappointed. While she does appear nude in the film, it is photographed as to not be too revealing.

What Didn’t Work:
Execution. I really think deep down that the story could have had legs if it was carried out on screen with better execution. I guess I’ll fault director Mathieu Kossovitz for that. Kill the hokey, blinking fluorescent lights and the bad weather… and lose the Dracula’s Castle exterior of the prison – the thing looked like it fell out of a Terence Fisher film onto the Gothika set.

Also, whose side is the young girl on anyway? Seems like she really wants Berry to help her during certain periods of the movie, then tries her best to harm her in others. Too inconsistent.

This is a bit spoilerish, but the very end of the film was also a bit of a head-scratcher. You can make the argument for the young girl’s connection with the story, but what is with the boy in the street? Berry goes from one possession to ‘I see dead people’!? Give me a break! I would have loved an explanation of this… but all I got was the credits.

The last word on Gothika is weak. The film is the Little Engine that couldn’t. Try as it might to climb the hill of mediocrity, it slides back down to the base with every panned lightning flash and cheap scare. If you must have your creepy, ghost-on-a-mission story fix, go rent Stir of Echoes.

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