Starring: Halle, Berry, Penelope Cruz, Robert Downey, Jr., Charles Dutton
Director: Mathieu Kassovitz
"Gothika" encompasses all the stark aesthetics of the usual supernatural film noir, except of course for a good story and savvy leading lady. The film's limitless potential inherently vanishes once Halle Berry's dreadful performance becomes impossible to bear, with little help from its supporting actors and a weak ending that cries rip-off.
Berry stars as Miranda Grey, the head criminal psychologist at a women's psychiatric ward alongside her associate Pete Graham (Robert Downey Jr.), helping alleged psychotics like Chloe Sava (Penelope Cruz) with their problems. Miranda, who believes Chloe is fabricating her rape story, leaves for home one night when she discovers a naked, battered woman on the road.
After stopping to help the young girl, Miranda wakes up the next day to find herself inside one of her own ward's holding cells, accused of murdering her husband and boss, Dr. Douglas Grey (Charles S. Dutton). Along with Pete's help, Miranda focuses her time on the mystery surrounding the murder case, engulfed in a supernatural world where death doesn't exactly mean you're gone for good.
"Gothika" has plenty of problems, most notably the time it takes to establish the story's purpose and how that purpose is accomplished. Berry's performance as Miranda is painful as usual (I still don't understand how she won that Oscar), transforming herself from the sexy actress we saw and loved in "Swordfish" and "Die Another Day" to a long haired, conservative doctor with little else to conceal her bad acting.
The more exemplary performances come from Downey and Cruz, who have both begun to rebuild their careers by portraying compelling characters, but sadly their screen time here is limited to just a few scenes. This film has clearly been marketed as Berry's star vehicle even though she's proven that she doesn't deserve any leading roles. Unfortunately for us, though, she will continue to receive offers like this as long as that golden statue sits in her house. "Gothika" is a waste of time, money and especially good talent (Downey and Cruz). While it appears to be a psychological thriller, it has neither the psychological intellect of "The Sixth Sense" nor the horror and suspense of "The Ring."