Gothika DVD Review
Written by Peter West
DVD released by Warner Bros. Entertainment
Directed by Mathieu Kassovitz
Written by Sebastian Gutierrez
2003, Region 1 (NTSC), 98 minutes, Rated R
DVD released on March 23rd, 2004
Halle Berry as Miranda Grey
Robert Downey Jr. as Pete Graham
Charles S. Dutton as Dr. Douglas Grey
John Carroll Lynch as Sheriff Ryan
Bernard Hill as Phil Parsons
Penélope Cruz as Chloe Sava
Dr. Miranda Grey (Halle Berry) works at as a psychiatrist at a prison hospital. After a disturbing session with one of her patients Chloe (Penélope Cruz) who claims to have been raped by the devil, she seeks advice from the director of the hospital Dr. Douglas Grey (Charles S. Dutton) who happens to be her husband as well. They are joined by Pete Graham (Robert Downey Jr.) who seems a bit bothered by tender moment he witnesses between the happy couple. After finishing up some paperwork in her office Miranda takes a quick dip in the facility pool and prepares to drive home.
On the way home, her normal route is detoured by a sinkhole and Miranda must take a alternate route by a covered wooden bridge. At that bridge Miranda runs off the road to avoid a scantily clad woman in the middle of the road. Unhurt by the accident Miranda proceeds to assist the young woman who convulses violently and then appears to be enveloped in flames. Suddenly Miranda wakes up in the hospital, this time as a patient!
Miranda is told that she murdered her husband in the most gruesome of manner. Her once friends and coworkers now treat her as she is crazy. Although Miranda has no recollection of the crime, she is haunted by flashbacks of the killing. While in her cell Miranda is haunted by the specter of the woman from the bridge as she attempts to reconcile the crime and her part in it. Miranda finds that her once professional opinion of Chloe being crazy may have been in error as suspense builds to a shocking conclusion.
A lot has changed since the '60s and '70s as far as the caliber of actors in horror films. Back then a name actor in a horror movie was usually on the downward spiral of their career. Gothika has two academy award winners (Berry and Downey Jr.) and an Emmy nominated star with many industry awards (Dutton). This may be the best overall team to ever make a horror film. The final result is worthy of all the talent that has created it. The only drawback of the film is that it may be too slick and too well written and just go right by some viewers. I liked Gothika, and was really surprised by how well made it was. The combination of suspense, violence, gore with a good script was refreshing.
Personally, I have only one complaint, not enough nudity. I had to break my pledge of always including nudity in screenshots because the only boobage was that of the old ladies in the mental ward. Halle and Penélope should have stepped up to the plate and delivered in that regard. Where Berry still looked hot even without makeup, Cruz looked like she was hit with the ugly stick! Take it from me, she would have scared me in the morning... Overall I recommend Gothika highly for a great combination of story and theme.
Video and Audio:
Gothika is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio. Although a very dark movie in mood and atmosphere the visuals are vivid and entrancing. The setting of the prison hospital is breathtaking! The commentary track reveals the tricks and usage of CGI to create the setting. The final result is perfectly melded into a eerie depressing world of gloom and despair.
A John Ottman soundtrack perfectly compliments the actual and images of this film. For those who are not familiar with his work, John did the soundtracks on The Usual Suspects and X2, which are superb as well! The Dolby Digital 5.1 sound draws you into the action and gives the feeling that you're right there with Miranda at the prison.
Included is the theatrical trailer and a Fred Durst music video "Behind Blue Eyes". There is also a commentary track by Director Mathieu Kassovitz and Cinematographer Matthew Libatique which is pretty much a technical education in filmaking.