|Rated R - for violence, brief language and nudity|
|Reviewed by: Jim|
|Release Date: November 21, 2003||Released by: Warner Brothers|
Halle Berry's first leading role isn't going to help her career after her recent work in X2. Gothika has her Dr. Miranda Grey inexplicably an inmate in her own psychiatric ward after being accused of murder.
Mathieu Kassovitz, a French native, directs with some visual aplomb that gets a little mileage from a premise which takes Girl, Interrupted down a deep supernatural abyss. Berry immerses herself physically and emotionally into the role of the seemingly cool, rational criminal psychologist who deals with the likes of Penelope Cruz's Chloe Sava who believes that Satan is sexually abusing her. Chloe's "Satanic meanderings" somewhat describe the course of this atmospheric, yet degeneration into all things defined by Gothic, medieval and fiction.
The setting is the Woodward Penitentiary for Women, Dr Grey's husband, Doug (Charles S. Dutton), is the chief administrator. While detoured en route home one stormy night, Miranda nearly runs down a shivering, naked girl. In a bizarre awakening, she's imprisoned in the very place she worked and a former colleague tells her she murdered Doug. The memory loss, a three day gap that she's experiences, add to the nightmares from that chance meeting with the young girl.
For a while, the screenplay by Sebastian Gutierrez attempts to make something cohesive from the position of a patient (on the other side of the glass) when it comes to mental illness and a connection to the other world. The horror and suspense take the form of a whodunit with the physically and emotionally spent Miranda determined to exonerate herself. The fears behind all the moodiness teeters between those in the genre like The Ring and Lost Souls. But, Gothika, Kassovitz's first American movie, mostly shrinks down to the latter with lines like, "I don't believe in ghosts, but they believe in me." Many may feel that it's a wicked teaser with nary a payoff.
Frank Chris Tony Jim Howard Jennifer Kathleen Avg. Gothika C- C C- C C-