Miranda Grey (Halle Berry) is a psychiatrist in a women’s prison. Among her patients is Chloe Sava (Penelope Cruz), a murderer who claims she has been raped by the Devil. One stormy night, Miranda drives home and has a vision of a young girl in the road who appears to burst into flames…to wake up in prison, accused of murdering her husband Doug (Charles S. Dutton). She can persuade no-one that she is not herself insane.
Gothika (a pretty meaningless title when you think about it) comes to you from Dark Castle Entertainment as their fourth annual horror film release. At first it attracts interest by this time not being a remake of a 50s/60s B movie (House on Haunted Hill, Thir13een Ghosts, Ghost Ship) but an “original” script, by Sebastian Gutierrez. Secondly, it has a director who is clearly more than the anonymous hacks who directed the earlier entries. As a director, Mathieu Kassovitz hasn’t come close to equalling the impact of his second feature, La haine – one of the key films of the mid 1990s – and it’s sad to see him fritter away his undoubted talent on nonsensical work like this. (He’s done much better in recent years as an actor in A Self-Made Hero and Amélie.) Artily atmospheric camerawork (from Matthew Libatique) and some good set design do not an effective horror movie make. Gothika is undone by a hackneyed plot with no real surprises, and a capable cast is left stranded. In the central role, Halle Berry simply doesn’t convince as a clinical psychiatrist.
Further demerits go to Limp Bizkit, whose cover version of the first half of The Who’s “Behind Blue Eyes” plays over the end credits – a song they clearly have completely misunderstood.