Gothika (2003)

Gothika

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Halle Berry’s crazy.

Imagine you wake up in a psychiatric ward with a ton of people telling you that your whole life is a sham…but you know it’s not…but who really is going to listen to you? You’re in a psych ward, for heaven’s sake! You know this sub-genre very well – it’s used a lot in television for psychological thrilling episodes…and as typical as it has come to be, I love it. It’s always a fun time, and there seems to always be a great mystery involved. Gothika is a film that takes this general idea to the film level…and again…it does a pretty decent job at it.

Halle Berry is our leading lady this time, playing a chick named Miranda Grey – a doctor at a psychiatric hospital that more or less specializes in explaining why people are absolutely nuts. She’s logical and rational, but after a strange incident on a bridge, she wakes up in her own hospital with everyone telling her that she’s crazy when she knows she’s not. Just as much as every crazy person knows they aren’t crazy either…so she isn’t in the best place. In order to claim her sanity she must figure out what actually happened – and in order to find that out…she must escape.

In some ways, this is a pretty typical movie. I’m not arguing with that, it seems that way, but it is still pretty fun. I’ll admit that I wish the whole explanation of the film was something a little more creative, but I accepted what I got as ‘good enough’. Halle Berry plays a convincing crazy lady – especially with how they portrayed the line between sane and crazy…and how peoples judgments of others actions can sometimes be mistaken. Imagine if you were in the same precarious situation claiming sanity in the middle of a loony bin. People wouldn’t jump to your defense, now would they? Sure, the whole concept behind the film is a bit far-fetched in the scheme of things, but it’s honest enough to make you think.

If I wrote the film, there were a lot of different directions that I probably would have gone. Movies like this don’t seem to realize how much direction you can actually take. It’s a psychological thriller…meant to mess with your head. Your head is a powerful tool capable of coming up with crazy situations – which I wish this film sort of delved a little closer to. It’s a loony bin where people are drugged up to no end…let’s seriously get nuts up in this joint. No? Oh, okay.

What RT has to say: Berry’s acting talents can’t save Gothika from its preposterous plot and bad dialogue. – was the plot preposterous? In a way, yeah…but what are you expecting going in? You already know she is randomly thrown into a loony bin and why, and you figure there is some kind of element of paranormal activity going on by the trailers alone – why are you complaining about plot? As for the dialogue? I can’t disagree more. They did a great job mirroring the “dialogue” and thoughts of crazy people as the same dialogue for a sane person…which they kind of had to do to suggest that not all crazy people are indeed crazy after all.

The Good:

I’ve always liked psychological thrillers. They make you think, which this film definitely does. I liked it more along the lines on how it provided commentary on what truly makes a man “crazy” – and how that may not apply as universally as we originally thought. Maybe people sound crazy but are in actuality being truthful.

The Bad:

You’ve seen this type of idea done, sometimes better, in episodes of television. The time constraints of a typical hour-long tv show seem to fit the concept a little better than a full-length film – which they didn’t completely take advantage of their creative prowess with.

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