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Gothika
2/5
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Mathieu Kassovitz
scr Sebastian Gutierrez
with Halle Berry, Robert Downey Jr, Penelope Cruz, Bernard Hill, John Carroll Lynch, Charles S Dutton, Dorian Harewood, Bronwen Mantel, Kathleen Mackey, Matthew G Taylor, Michel Perron, Andrea Sheldon
release US 21.Nov.03, UK 2.Apr.04
Columbia-Warners
03/US 1h35

You're crazy: Berry with Kassovitz.

berry downey cruz
Gothika Support Shadows: Buy a Poster
From the Dark Castle schlockmeisters (see Ghost Ship), here's another truly cheesy thriller that only works because it knows how silly it is. This is guilty pleasure moviemaking that expects the audience to laugh at it. If you take it seriously, you'll think it's one of the worst films you've ever seen!

Dr Miranda Grey (Berry) is a psychiatrist at a New England prison for criminally insane women. On her way home one evening after work, during a torrential electric storm of course, she encounters a freaky girl in the road. The next thing she knows she's an inmate in her own prison, accused of murdering her husband (Dutton), also a doctor there. Her trusted colleague (Downey), another doctor (Hill) and the local sheriff (Lynch) are all trying get to the bottom of it, but she can't remember what happened. And besides, everyone thinks she's crazy! Then strange things begin happening, and Miranda has to take a bizarre leap of faith to solve the mystery. Perhaps her former patient and now fellow inmate Chloe (Cruz) might not be as nuts as she thought.

Basically this is a standard ghost story, and French director Kassovitz approaches it almost like a music video, with deeply unrealistic set design (walls painted black and so on), eerily insinuating special effects, red herrings at every level of the production and heightened performances that make you believe everyone's guilty of murder. Along the way, he somehow manages to keep us nervous and jumpy, even as the plot and dialog get increasingly laughable ("I'm not delusional, I'm possessed!"). It helps to have such a solid cast on board, because it lends a kind of warped emotional believability to the overall goofiness. And although it's very hard to imagine this ever becoming a cult classic, simply because there's not much to it, it's a fairly good time at the movies ... if you're prepared to just sit back and have fun. Hey, there's hours of enjoyment in store just in guessing what the title means!

cert 15 violence, language, suspense 27.Jan.04

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... gothika Alan, Melbourne: 3.5/5 "Was pleasantly surprised. The script although written as a scary flick type, turned out to be more of a strong whodunnit. Halle Berry and Robert Downey Jnr do a good job. They may never win an Oscar for acting - but they do play character roles well. The storyline is macabre, with the stormy and creepy special effects producing the right atmosphere for the film to achieve its goals." (21.Apr.04)
2004 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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