In GOTHIKA, Halle Berry plays a criminal psychologist who one day, after a car accident, awakens to find herself a prisoner and patient in the very women’s psychiatric institution that employs her. Tormented by a vengeful spirit who got her in this mess, she tries desperately to unravel the mystery of her imprisonment since she has been accused of a horrible crime she can’t remember committing. GOTHIKA delivers a sort of frustrated, lonely feel since none of the other characters believe her side of the story. The director probably wanted the audience to have an imprisoned feel, since, throughout the movie, hope is in short supply. Also one can’t help but feel oppressed by the cold stone and cinderblock backdrop. In fact, the movie is so absent of color that not even the blood is red.
A great touch, however, is the women’s psychiatric prison itself. The look is an old Victorian-type haunted mansion architecture, complete with hard rain and peels of thunder. Stuck in the middle of a vast Connecticut forest, one couldn_t help but feel a bit claustrophobic from the wilderness pressing in on the patients. If an inmate escapes, where would she go?
There is never any reference in the movie to the title. Perhaps, whoever wrote the screenplay thought GOTHIKA sounded neat and scary. Our ears are still ringing from the audience’s screams. GOTHIKA certainly knew how to deliver them. Unfortunately, they weren’t the right type of screams. Horror films tend to become classic and memorable if they do more than just jolt the audience with an underhanded Boo! “Talked about” horror films have to actually unsettle moviegoers. The kind of movie you can’t shake for a week. Perfect examples would be THE SHINING, THE RING, and HUSH, HUSH, SWEET CHARLOTTE. GOTHIKA almost succeeds, but not quite. Maybe this movie should have been called THE GOTHIKA or HUSH, HUSH, SWEET HALLE.
GOTHIKA contains a lot of rain, dark hallways, shadows and whispering ghosts. . . a great combination for creep factor. However, someone in the creative process just didn’t trust that the movie would be scary enough, so the typical “hysterical cat jumps out from between clanging trash cans” scenes are inserted here and there.
Halle Berry’s performance is top-notch. In acting class, she probably got an A in white-knuckle terror. She’s got one of Hollywood_s most expressive faces.
The good news is that Halle’s character remains faithful to her husband in the face of a temptation to have an affair with someone she may have liked. Later there are a couple of self-sacrificing characters who risk their jobs and possessions to trust her. Also, Halle’s character becomes a believer after she eventually stops chanting to herself that she is a rationalist who accepts only scientific fact.
GOTHIKA also contains, however, extreme violence toward women, including implied rape. One inmate reports having “sex with Satan,” whom she says enters her cell at night. Blood and mutilation are everywhere. Throughout the movie, there are little jabs to faith in the unseen. The only people who believe in the supernatural in this movie are the institutionalized patients. The nonbelievers in the movie tend to be the good looking, well dressed, rational “straight man.” As with almost all movies dealing with the paranormal, God for some strange reason is left out of the equation. There is of course the issue of a person being oppressed by a spirit. An incredibly violent apparition, for example, slams Halle Berry’s character against the walls of her cell.
Overall, moral audiences, or at least the spiritually sensitive, will likely want to avoid this movie.
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SUMMARY: GOTHIKA is a ghost story in which a repressed female psychiatrist wakes up as a patient in the very asylum where she worked with no memory of committing a terrible crime. Most audiences will find that this dark ghost story is not compelling enough for a suspense movie, and moral audiences will shy away due to the portrayals of violence, especially toward women, and the jabs at people who believe in the supernatural.
(HH, OO, B, C, Ab, LL, VVV, S, NNN, A, D, M) Secular humanist worldview with strong occult, demonic elements, some moral and redemptive elements, and some anti-biblical elements; about 12 obscenities (including at least one “f” word), two strong profanities, and one light profanity; very strong violence and some blood, including violence toward women, implied rape, ghost slams woman repeatedly against walls, woman knocked down, car crashes through barriers, people on fire, blood written on wall, blood splattering, image of bloody hand, and man shot in head; sexual content includes passionate kissing, implied rape, and woman briefly describes fornicating with the Devil; upper and rear female nudity and full frontal female nudity from a distance and in shadow; alcohol use; smoking and woman tests negative for PCP; and, talk of “sex with Satan” and jabs at people who have faith in unseen things.
GENRE: Horror/Supernatural Horror