ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Gothika is frighteningly awful
Starring: Halle Berry, Robert Downey Jr., Penelope Cruz
Directed by: Mathieu Kassovitz
By Anna Coutts
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.