December 01, 2003


There's pretty much no way to deny it at this point: Halle Berry is a damn fine actress. That Oscar she won a couple years back wasn't a fluke, and she proves it hear with a powerhouse performance as Dr. Miranda Grey, a psychiatrist working in a spooky looney bin (the kind that Hollywood likes to light like a spook house) who has a happy marriage to the hospital administrator (played by Charles S. Dutton) and whose co-worker (Robert Downey Jr.) has a major crush on her. Typical story for today's working girl. Anyway, after meeting with her most disturbed patient (Penelope Cruz), who claims that a man comes to her cell every night and rapes her, Dr. Grey heads home on a rainy night and runs off the road trying to avoid a scared, shivering woman in the middle of the road. She races to the woman's aid and blacks out. When she wakes up days later, her husband has been violently murdered in their home and she's been locked up in the very hospital where she works, accused of snapping and committing the crime. She's positive she didn't do this, but as her memories start to return, it becomes clear that she probably did. It also becomes clear that she is being visited by the dead daughter of the head of the hospital, played by LORD OF THE RINGS' Bernard Hill. Adding the supernatural element onto an already pretty tense film boosts the fun of the movie, but it also turns an a-level psychological thriller/murder mystery into a classy b-movie with an a-list cast.

French actor/director Mathieu Kassovitz (who played the object of the title character's affections in AMELIE) does a terrific job establishing one of the creepiest atmospheric films since last year's THE RING. The scares are jump inducing, special effects are used sparingly, and Kassovitz relies as much on his excellent cast as he does on moody lighting to freak us out. Berry does a great job mixing her portrayal of a stereotypical scared female lead with that of an educated woman who realizes early on that the ghostly figure that abuses the hell out of her early on is not just the product of her possibly delusional mind, and she sets out to discover why this ghost has singled her out for victimization. I'll give you a hint: it's not a coincidence. GOTHIKA is top-notch smart and scary stuff.

Posted by sprokopy at 02:52 PM