November 25, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 48  

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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Gothika is frighteningly awful


Gothika
Starring: Halle Berry, Robert Downey Jr., Penelope Cruz
Directed by: Mathieu Kassovitz

By Anna Coutts
Gazette Staff

Gazette file photo
NO — IT CAN’T BE! IT’S TOO HORRIFIC! There there, Halle... Gothika may have been a bomb, but at least you’re still hot.

Gothika was frightening. Frighteningly awful. The previews seemed to promise an amazing psychological thriller that would keep viewers wide awake in terror for the next few nights. Unfortunately, the preview was the best thing Gothika had to offer.

Like the preview, the movie began by creating the atmosphere of a good, spooky thriller: the creepiness of the rainy night and the dreary mental institution all suggested Gothika would be a good, scary flick. Unfortunately, this was not the case. By the time I left the theatre, I was laughing at its cheesiness and shaking my head in disappointment over the anti-climactic ending.

Gothika had definite potential, which makes it so much of a disappointment. It has you guessing at what will happen and wondering what is real and unreal. It makes you think about how we perceive the mentally ill and that perhaps there is some truth to their madness. However, instead of truly exploring these fascinating ideas, the movie spirals into an unimaginative reworking of the classic horror flick.

While it did have some frightening moments, most of them were stolen from recent successful thrillers such as The Sixth Sense and The Ring. The writers must have forgotten what it was that made those movies so scary in the first place — their originality.
Despite the film’s flaws, however, viewers can at least appreciate the acting. Berry proves that Monster’s Ball was not a fluke and she really is a fantastic actress. She shines in the darkness of Gothika as Dr. Miranda Grey, the psychiatrist who suddenly loses her mind, starts seeing ghosts and finds herself facing charges for a murder she swears she didn’t commit.

Yet while Berry pulls off the role and makes the character her own, one has to wonder about her mental state — not to mention that of Cruz. Both of these talented ladies play their characters extremely well and have both starred in numerous blockbusters. So what on earth possessed them to pick this weakly-scripted film? Please, someone check their heads and make sure they are of sound mind. At least Downey Jr. has his long history of drug abuse as an excuse. But drugs or no drugs, he, like Cruz and Berry, knows exactly how to create terror with a mere glance.

It is only through these talented three that any real fear is created in Gothika. Berry’s wild fits of mania, Cruz’s restrained fears and Downey’s adulterous leering all combine to evoke a sense of dread considerably well for the first hour or so. It’s too bad that there wasn’t equal talent coming from the screenwriters and directors..

If you like scary but predictable stories, or good acting with a wretched script, then by all means, go see Gothika. But if you’re looking for something new and different, and something that will really blow your mind and make you think, this film is not for you. You’re better off staying at home to watch the preview; the possible endings and ideas you can create in your own mind will undoubtedly be better than what the movie has to offer.

 

 

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