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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Gothika

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Judy Thorburn

Gothika

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Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

“GOTHIKA” IS A ‘BERRY’ SCARY MOVIE

Gothika is the name of the latest supernatural thriller to come out of Hollywood.  But, if you are like me, and wonder what the title means, don’t expect an explanation from any character in the movie.  The only reference to Gothika in the film is when someone who appears to be mentally deranged shouts out that word.  It’s left up to the audience to figure out what she means, since it is never explained.  Thankfully, I was sent the press notes from Warner Bros. Studios that sheds light on how the title Gothika relates to the storyline and atmosphere.

You see, Gothika is a derivative of the word “gothic”, as in the medieval time and social climate in history, which influenced art and literature. It is an era that can be seen reflected in the dramatic style of gothic architecture, and also through the writings of novelists since the 18th century who have combined mystery, horror and desolation into their works, making that style of narrative first known as a “new and fearful genre for a new and fearful time”, very popular.

So how does that definition translate to this new film?  I’d say very well. As a modern take on gothic style storytelling it surely delivers with all the ingredients to fit the bill.  But, enough about the title. Gothika also happens to be one of the scariest movies I have seen in a long time.  It’s spooky and suspenseful from the very start, with perfectly effective eerie music, dim atmospheric lighting and setting to set the mood.

Oscar winner (for Monster’s Ball) Hallee Berry is the star, and powerfully carries the film in this physically and emotionally demanding role.  She plays Dr. Miranda Grey, a brilliant criminal psychiatrist at the Woodward Penitentiary For Women, who wakes up one day on the wrong side of the glass cell, as a patient/prisoner accused of a murder she has no memory committing. All she can recall is while driving home in a torrential downpour she was forced to detour over a bridge, and swayed to avoid hitting a young girl standing in the middle of the road.  After getting out of the car she approached the young woman, who then burst into flames. Fade to black, and its three days later when Miranda opens her eyes and is confronted with the shocking news that her husband Greg (a miscast, Charles S. Dutton), the facility’s chief administrator, was brutally killed, and that all the evidence points to her. If that isn’t enough, Miranda starts having visitations by a ghostly female figure who tosses her around like a rag doll when she isn’t busy leaving strange messages like one the cut deeply into Miranda’s arm and cell door that read “not alone”.

In Miranda’s scientific and logical world, ghosts don’t exist. The question is, who is this young woman, and what does she want?  Or is Miranda having delusions or hallucinations like her former patients she used to treat? Although Miranda keeps telling herself she is a rational person who doesn’t believe in the paranormal or ghosts, she soon discovers, they believe in her. But, how can Miranda escape from the institution, and get to the bottom of this nightmare without losing her sanity, if she hasn’t already? This circumstance leads to a terrifying journey to uncover the truth.

Penelope Cruz has a small but crucial role as Chloe, one of Miranda’s disturbed patients, and now fellow prisoner, who claims Satan has raped her, and warns the doctor that she’s next. She effectively evokes a fractured soul, and the only person who understands Miranda’s predicament.  But, she informs the doctor, whose former colleagues believe she has gone mad, “you can’t trust someone who thinks you are crazy”. That’s a view Miranda hadn’t seen from the other side of the coin, and the revelation is frightening.

It’s nice to see Robert Downey Jr. back on the screen. He delivers a welcomed, restrained performance as Dr. Pete Graham, her colleague who is torn between his unrequited feelings for Miranda and his clinical take on her apparent crazy behavior.

Even with a few loose ends and typical clichés like flickering lights and a red herring thrown in, Gothika is one chilling, creepy experience that will have you at the edge of your seat.  French actor/director Mathieu Kassovitz (La Haine, Crimson Rivers) in his first English language film, weaves a crafty mystery that has one thrill ride after another. If you are a fan of other psychological, supernatural thrillers like The Sixth Sense or What Lies Beneath, Gothika is another “spirited” film, with similar elements that are bound to make you jump.  My husband came up with another title for this scare fest. He refers to Gothika as “Gotcha - ka”. That’s telling it like it is!