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Dan Heller's Movie Review of Gothika


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Halle Berry (2)
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What do Haley Joel Osmont and Halle Berry have in common besides similar-sounding first names? They both see dead people. But unlike the 1999 psycho-suspense film The Sixth Sense, Berry's film, Gothika, is riddled with problems, the most important being that it doesn't know what kind of movie it wants to be. A surprise, given the top-notch cast, film crew and production company behind the wheel.

The plot of the film centers around Berry's character, Miranda Grey, a pscyhiatrist for in a women's psychiatric prison for the criminally insane. On a dark and stormy night, driving home from the prison, she swerves to avoid hitting a young girl standing in the middle of the road. In Miranda's attempt to communicate with her, the girl erupts into flames, during which an aparent mind-meld transfer takes place. The next
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Halle Berry (1)
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scene finds Miranda in the very same prison where she worked, only now she's an inmate, accused of brutally murdering her husband. With no memory whatsoever, she struggles not only to unravel the mystery about what really happened, but she has to fight against the very system she used to work in.

The premise of the movie seemed reasonable enough. As the title suggests, the "Gothic" roots of the film are found in the dark and violent medieval times, where bad intentions were attributed to possession by the devil or other evil spirits. Yet, not once does the movie follow or even explore this track. Instead, it meanders around an array of typical slasher-film themes we've all seen a million times before. The movie falls apart almost immediately during the scene where Miranda wakes up in prison, when the characters
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Halle Berry (3)
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behave in ways totally inconsistent with how they were establised before. This, for sole purpose of building suspense. And, as many movies of this type tend to do, the juxtaposition of incoherent script, irrelevant characters, and undeveloped relationships, all chip away at the movie's plausibility, disengaging the audience from caring about anything, or anyone. Mixed with the cliché suspenseful music, false surprises and predictable scene evolution, the last third of the film finds most of the audience laughing audibly at just about every turn.

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Halle Berry, Robert Downey Jr.
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Had Gothika explored some of the culture that its name implies, or had developed a truly puzzling murder-mystery, or even established stronger characters that made the movie more about them, as the Sixth Sense had done, perhaps the movie could have saved face. But as it is, I can't even recommend it to Ozzy Osborne... or his kids.

You can find this movie on the internet database here: http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0348836/

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