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Gothika (2003)

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Plot Summary:
"A criminal psychologist (Berry) awakens to find herself a patient in the institution where she works, with no memory of the murder she's accused of committing. As she tries to regain her memory - and her freedom - a vengeful spirit manipulates her."

Review by
Steven Davies
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Review Date: 21 June 2004 My Rating: out of 5


Personally, I'm one of these people who applaud companies and film-makers to remake old and/or classic horror movies. On the one hand you could argue it's because there just is no longer any originality or imagination out there to spew out new and interesting movies. But on the other hand it's such an interesting experiment in the art of perception and just seeing the outcome of a different writer and a different director and how exactly they can manipulate and re-imagine an original story.

But what the hell am I talking about?, Gothika isn't a remake. No, that's true but it is the latest production from Dark Castle Entertainment. A production company who up to this point concentrated and was responsible for remakes, remaking notable William Castle movies such as Thirteen Ghosts and House on Haunted Hill. Gothika is the fourth release and such is the first to be an attempted original release. Or so you would think.

Gothika is by no means original. I think ghostly psychological chillers are becoming dull and repetitive. For it is director M Night Shyamalan's 'The Sixth Sense' that I hold solely responsible for the new directions within this sub-genre. And unfortunately it becomes abundantly clear in so many mainstream ghost stories these days that everyone feels the need to live up to the success and style of the fore-mentioned 'Sense'.

Halle Berry plays Miranda Grey, a female psychologist who after a stormy night drives home only to awaken and find herself a patient in the institution where she works labelled as a murderer. She can't remember anything but quick dream like flashes, new information, and slow-mo reverse action soon help spell it out. She is possessed by a vengeful spirit.

The nagging though in the back of my head throughout this movie was how similar in so many aspects to director/producer Robert Zemeckis' 2000 chiller 'What Lies Beneath' this was. And of course notably Zemeckis was on board to help produce this movie. But it was all a little run-of-the-mill for my liking and didn't grab my interest in any particular way.

Again, like previous Dark Castle movies, the editing, sound and occasional manipulative sequences are slick and imaginative. However the story falls flat on its face. SPOILER: Remember the Penélope Cruz character being raped in her cell and Miranda spotting the tattoo. Well, the fact that it was etched onto the back of a large backed white guy kinda gave too much away for me :END SPOILER. So the eventual ending became a little too predictable from very early on.

Reviewer: Phil Davies Brown @horrorasylum
Location:Scotland, UK
Review Date: 05 April 2004 My Rating: out of 5

The latest film from Dark Castle Entertainment finally arrives on UK shores, amid a lot of publicity, after all, they might as well milk it for all it's worth.

Halle Berry stars as Dr. Miranda Gray in this one woman show, about a criminal psychologist who is involved in an accident, only to wake up and find herself an inmate at the institiute where she works, being accused of grisly things.

I don't really need to divulge any more plot details, as they are explained in painstaking detail, to the very last.

What I will comment on is the wonderful locations, lighting and to some extent atmosphere, no doubt enhanced by the talents of Director Matthieu Kassovitz.

Halle Berry is very good in her role and if nothing else makes Miranda, a smart, sexy and more importantly real horror heroine. The fact that she chose this post Oscar is a big middle finger to all those who continue to belittle and berate the genre, despite the talent that it consistently produces and attracts.

I was initially annoyed that the producers were telling of their ability to elevate the material with the cast they had, but whilst it does not feel like a Dark Castle film, all of the conventions present in the 3 previous films are here too, as well as an excellent joke about 50's B-movies.

In the end, Gothika has a strong first half, taking its time to develop its characters before getting to the horror. Where it falters is in its repetetive nature and its overlong explanation and conclusion, which by that point is blatantly obvious anyway!

Whilst the reason behind the ghostly goings on was very unexpected, the film still seems a little too far fetched even for my liking. There are some plot holes here that left me asking plenty questions!! Despite these slight annoyances, the film isn't too bad.

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