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Overall Rating

Awesome: 6.38%
Worth A Look32.98%
Just Average: 21.28%
Pretty Crappy: 22.34%
Sucks: 17.02%

5 reviews, 64 user ratings

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by Natasha Theobald

"Communication is Key"
3 stars

You know, I like movies like this. We've got Halle Berry working in this jail for crazy people, and what does it look like but a jail for crazy people. Everything is gray and lifeless. The lights are constantly fluttering off and on, because the building is so old. And, here she is, in the darkness, swimming laps in a creepy-ass pool on the premises. Why not just get a pass to the YMCA? Who knows. You know what I think? Just working in a place like that could make you crazy. Oh, wait, that's what happens. Quelle surprise!

Berry plays a psychiatrist (I think that's right, as she gives drugs) at said hospital. Her husband (Charles Dutton) runs the place, and she is colleagues with Robert Downey Jr. Penelope Cruz is one of her patients, a woman who bemoans the fact that people don't listen to crazy people, a comment Berry glances over but one which may later haunt her, as she has her own one-way ticket to Crazytown in the works. Driving home from work in the rain, Berry is rerouted by a closed road, and that's when things start to get fairly puzzling.

Berry wakes up on the other side of the glass in the jail, a scene which could have been very disturbing and dramatic had it not been used in the trailer, as I recall. Berry is now on the other side, trying to convince Robert Downey Jr. that she's not as crazy as she seems and trying to co-exist with former patients. Not one to sit idly by, Berry has a mystery to solve, and she won't let locked cells or freaky occurances keep her from the truth.

While I made light of the setting, the movie is truly creepy in the visual sense. The flashing lights are disorienting, and the dark and gray are unsettling and spooky. The is not a scary spot I would want to tour, particularly at night. The music is highly effective, too, in painting the sensory picture. I must admit, a couple of times I was tempted to hit the mute button for a break from the tension. Most of the movie takes place in the hospital, but other locations used are equally disconcerting. Let's just say that Gothika is a worthy and appropriate title.

The cast is good, but I have a particular soft spot for Robert Downey Jr. He is amazing to watch, because he is unpredictable. Where nine out of ten other actors might take a scene up, he drops is down, drawing you in with a whisper or intense gaze. The scenes between his character and Berry's were by far my favorite of the film. Their back and forth was really good, with levels of a shared past and an uncertain future. He is her hope, and that of the audience, for redemption or solution or something, anything, concrete from the outside.

Penelope Cruz also is impressive as a woman desperate to be heard. Her problem, though, is that the things she wants to say are so far from the realm of reality that she can get no one to listen. Cruz seems overwrought and tired, full of despair and rage. She plays the role very well, too, with fiery abandon in her eyes and a physicality set loose by nothing left to lose.

While the set-up and action are quite good, Gothika is not above devolving into typical thriller hijinks or quasi-feminist empowerment crap that has little place in this film. The movie is worth watching for the overall effect and the great scenes aforementioned. I guess I can forgive the action heroics and miserable mystery as solved.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=8347&reviewer=317
originally posted: 11/09/04 22:36:13
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User Comments

9/21/17 morris campbell passable has some scares 3 stars
5/01/10 Doug Horrible 1 stars
1/22/09 Psychotic angel Cold shrink learns empathy, but the movie is not very good. 2 stars
9/15/08 janie this movie scared the crap out of me..but very good plot. 4 stars
8/28/08 Shaun Wallner Well Made! 4 stars
6/25/08 Mario Mediocre movie thats not very scary. 2 stars
5/14/08 me Hey man it was a great movie. sit back and relax and try not to be so literal. 5 stars
5/03/08 mb Too Trippy 2 stars
2/28/07 Beau it was shockingly disturbing and it had great acting it had good drama and suspense 4 stars
2/27/07 Stanley Thai One of the great things is that this film looks great and has some chills and thrills. 4 stars
12/27/06 David Pollastrini a bit slow 2 stars
4/29/06 TLoop I liked this movie a lot, great atmoshere & color scheme 4 stars
9/20/05 Carolyn Rathburn I loved this one, just enough drama and suspense 5 stars
9/01/05 ES If it stars Hallie Berry in anything other than a supporting role leave it alone 1 stars
8/11/05 Sully definitely scary...lots of tension and twists....good flick 4 stars
6/09/05 Enrico If you see it in a dark room with a projector and a good audio, like me, it is AWESOME! 5 stars
5/23/05 Steve Newman I agree with the review by Holland. I thought th emusic first class - enjoyable & watchable 4 stars
4/01/05 Cynthia Willingham This is stupid. I laughed at the 'scary' parts. 1 stars
3/24/05 Alice Colwell just plain boring 2 stars
3/03/05 TOTAL CRAP TOTAL CRAP 1 stars
1/30/05 New Jersey Rules SHIT 1 stars
12/08/04 Kristina Williams the twist at the end was RIDICULOUS 2 stars
11/21/04 Bobby Horrible. The ghost isn't scary; she's annoying. The mystery is crap and the "twists" suck. 2 stars
11/18/04 Jessica It was ok, but it was Robert Downey Jr. that made me want to watch it. 4 stars
11/07/04 psycho black dwarf Had a hard time believing Norm from Fargo as a hardcore inked baddie 2 stars
11/07/04 alchemist1066 a psycho-ghost romp, similar to "What Lies Beneath" 4 stars
7/23/04 Jannet Kwan Creepy just plain creepy I am so glad I am not in her shoe 4 stars
7/22/04 American Slasher Goddess Bland and boring. A waste of time. 1 stars
7/21/04 Nikolai Scared me asleep. Naked women don't hold a candle to likes of Anne Francis 2 stars
6/22/04 S.F Hell be brief...it sucked ! 1 stars
6/18/04 Denise Duspiva good plot 4 stars
5/22/04 Scarecrow The film has no consept!! 1 stars
5/20/04 nina loved it! 5 stars
5/17/04 AfroFett Boring, unscary, predictable... 1 stars
5/10/04 FGA Boring, Unoriginal, and just plain LAME! 1 stars
5/08/04 Charlene Javier Was this supposed to be scary? 2 stars
5/06/04 wylene I thought it was pretty good. 4 stars
5/06/04 David The scariest part was Halle sticking her tongue in that big lump of goo at the start 3 stars
5/01/04 American Slasher Goddess Boring and ruined by Berry's terrible acting 2 stars
5/01/04 john bale Style and logic of old gothic horror films , some genuine scary moments with sexy Halle 4 stars
4/30/04 susan lee actors overall better than movie itself 3 stars
4/14/04 alice OK Movie, but allready done before 3 stars
3/23/04 p.davidson completely derivative. a boring boring film. 2 stars
3/22/04 TAE pretty good, some parts really scared me 4 stars
3/07/04 Zach G. Anyone notice this movie was practically identical to 'What Lies Beneath'?? 3 stars
3/05/04 max scared the shit outta me, but saw the ending coming! 4 stars
2/24/04 Chartreuse Onyx A veritable crock of nonsense about women into wishin' 1 stars
2/24/04 Julia Cox Starts as promising wrongful accusation drama; languishes into supernatural mumbojumbo. 2 stars
2/23/04 Naturezrevenge Relatively predictable,vaguely disturbing and well excecuted.Had a "greasy" feel to it. 4 stars
1/20/04 Betty White Mindless, badly acted thriller; it's more like a comedy. 1 stars
1/02/04 A F Over acting. Haven't I seen this movie about a million times already. 2 stars
12/01/03 kawaii50 It's a movie...I had no expectations but I wasn't disappointed 4 stars
11/29/03 Xalt Immersive. Freaky. Flipped me out. I liked it. 4 stars
11/29/03 nick2k watch the ring instead... 3 stars
11/28/03 Emperor's New Clothes? Nope. Just a Fat, Ugly, Naked, Guy. Formulaic and contrived. Still scared me and then made me feel laugh for being scared. 4 stars
11/25/03 eeweepeerf story stopped after the 1st 20 minutes, then it was like the same scene repeating itself. 1 stars
11/24/03 KS Scarred me and suprised me! 5 stars
11/23/03 mike Not at all scary. Completely unorigional. 1 stars
11/22/03 Nisha I think that Gothika serverd it's purpose. I was scared and entertained. 5 stars
11/22/03 horndog i paid to see Halle's tits.didnt see halle's tits.horndog pissed..and the movie sucked,too 1 stars
11/21/03 benice bad 1 stars
11/21/03 malcolm halle berry nekkit + a couple of good scares, i'll take it 3 stars
11/21/03 Brian i've never seen a movie just end out of the blue... 3 stars
11/21/03 Cameron Slick A formulaic, mediocre movie with some good acting and atmosphere and a couple cheap scares. 2 stars
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  21-Nov-2003 (R)
  DVD: 12-Oct-2004



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