an Edge review
It’s 2003. Halle Berry has been on a roll. X-men, Swordfish, Die Another Day, X2 and then oh.. oh Gothika. Well it makes sense you can’t get to play a Mutant, Spy, and a woman who shows her breasts and not expect to get stuck into a flop. To be fair this movie isn’t a TOTALFLOP. I’d give it 4/10. It gets that extra point taking it from a 3 to a 4 simply because I didn’t pay 10 dollars to see it in a theatre. If I have to sit in a theatre, surrounded by chatting Cathy’s checking their cellphones and playing angry birds AND be disappointed - then it’s terrible. But if it’s a “meh” kind of flick that I can watch whenever I want for basically nothing then I have to judge it differently. Theenvironment being my leather office chair and a computer monitor vs. a huge amazingly beautiful raven black screen that depicts images and bass sounds that prove movies only have 1 volume – 11.
Above you’ll see the opening scene, yeah that’s Penelope Cruz who plays Chloe. That’s how the movie starts. 50 something seconds in and I am looking at her face, a blurred background and an amazing quote to get the ball rolling.
“He opened me like a flower of pain and it felt goooood. He sank into me and set me on fire, like he always does. Made me burn from the inside out.”
Of course this is a great catcher. I’m 50 seconds in and I’m listening to a poetic quote about fucking. If I was a fish I’ve taken the bait. I am curious, I want to know what is going on and sadly like a fish, when I finally get pulled in on the line at the end of the movie – I am not excited to learn that I am on a boat, on ice and will soon be dinner. The end is a disappointment, like the life of a caught fish. If you watch a lot of horror movies you’ll pick up on the foreshadowing, the small fragments in the first 10 minutes that reveal and open the entire movie’s plot to those who are movie fanatics (and book fanatics too you guys get to be labeled as analytical and smart!) For the rest of you – you’ll see some of it coming and even the final ending twist, well the last 2 they throw at you are predictable to just about everyone. The initial twist isn’t as predictable but the movie’s two themes do add to most of the foreshadowing.
The themes? Water/Reflections and that ever fun loving “Is what is going on Supernatural, Psychological, or a little of both? Is it all in her head, is Dr. Grey crazy? Is Chloe telling the truth and what about Robert Downey Jr? Oh yeah he’s in it playing that quirky but ever loving character minus the Iron Man facial hair and that badass suit of his. Oh and since I haven’t mentioned it yet. Dr. Grey is a head psychologist at a clinic for the insane. Her Husband played by Charles S. Dutton is everyone’s boss. Downey is her co-worker who you can tell has the school boy crush on her and the Sherriff is John Carroll Lynch.
The soundtrack is horror movie standards. Hard piano notes in-between conversations, whispers in the wind of a female voice and that light melodic yet haunting track to alert you that shit is going to hit the fan. Oh and Limp Bizkit’s “Behind Blue Eyes” as the ending credit track. Granted Halle Berry doesn’t have blue eyes but since Fred Durst aka Limp Bizkit does I guess that passes as credibility. This is my warning that going out to buy it for background music is a waste of your time and your money.
The movies camera angles, jump shots, fade in’s and other transitions are fine. They don’t get too annoying and there is even a scene where Dr. Grey is remembering something SUPER TERRIBLE THAT SHE HAS DONE (oh God no!) and it plays the scene backwards, aka like a VHS tape rewinding. Yes there is a fast lighted dream sequence with the expected blood thrown against the wall in long splashes, screaming, camera shaking and more lighting gone to hell – but, BUT!!! Gothika does this right. By the time I realized this kind of shit was going on it was over with. Like seeing a TORNADO land and going “oh fuck I gotta go…” and then the Tornado is gone before you can string together a listing of your favorite words emphasized by “FUCK.”
SPOILER ALERT – So this is where you stop reading if you haven’t seen the movie or have any intention of seeing it and want to be surprised. You should take note that you won’t really be that surprised because the movie is not as twisty in plot as a twizzler, it’s more twisty like the yellow brick road. There are some turns and twists but the damn thing’s golden and laid out pretty straightforward. (See comparison below)
The movie totally goes off its questioning if everything you are watching is either real or fake by blatantly pointing out that Dr. Grey is possessed and that’s what leads her to kill her husband the pervert who kidnaps girls, rapes and tortures them and then kills them with the help of the tattooed sheriff whose also been raping Penelope Cruz every night. Did you catch all that?
None of it is in her mind so even if she was on drugs like Thorazine that great question of “is this real?” that the viewer is supposed to struggle with is a mute point before the halfway marker. We’ll even ignore the ghost kid at the end who the bus drives right through – reaching out desperately for help from Dr. Grey. Also let’s ignore Dr. Greys ending speech about solving her problem, locking it up, throwing away the key etc. Obviously she can see dead people, it’s what happens when the head bosses daughter gets raped, tortured and killed by your ever so loving husband and then possess you and has you brutally slaughter him with an axe and bathe in his blood. Oh and for all of you who saw Halle Berry naked in swordfish, no this won’t be occurring here. Though like any good horror movie stereotype there is a shower scene. With a dozen or two women – whose faces get all distorted after Dr. Grey lets the cold water hit her face, distorting her perception of reality (or possession by evil natural spirit influenced event – whatever.) Oh and if you do see this and you can’t figure out the sheriff was in on it most of the time and is the tattooed asshole then you need to watch more horror. I feel like the first 30 minutes the movie was decent, and then it all became a huge pile of crap. Not just because I could predict and smell said shit, but because it was like they had me hooked and then this is where they lead me. They lead me here. Unlike b/c/d horror films who don’t hide how terrible they are. This is a high class trash. A huge pile of shit covered in gold glitter. Its shit but made to look nice.
4/10 if you can watch it for free and at home.
3/10 if you are somehow able to pay money and watch this in a theatre. (So instead give me your money or donate it to a third world country or a good cause.)
This movie isn’t torturous so it doesn’t get the GITMO SEAL OF APPROVAL but it didn’t leave me feeling like I just went through an excellent story, experienced some form of horror and left with a smile on my face and popcorn salt in my beard.
Netflix believes I would like these movies based on Gothika:
Haven’t seen The Glass House but the first two are true horror classics and in no way should be compared to Gothika – unless it’s opposite day.