Gothika

on November 21, 2003 by Christine James
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"Logic is overrated," Dr. Miranda Grey (Halle Berry) icily declares after a psychotic episode has landed her in the asylum over which she used to preside and a violent ghost has shattered her entire belief system. That's fine as a response to extreme psychological trauma, but not as an apology for deficiencies in this paranormal thriller's credibility.

Suffering partial amnesia after murdering her husband, Miranda is tormented by the spirit of a slain girl who doesn't ask for help so much as beat it out of the good doctor. Miranda's fragility is compounded by the taunts of fellow inmates and the cold-shouldered stoicism of her former peers. No one believes her, even when the ghost carves the words "Not Alone" into her arm--and their skepticism is understandable, given that the vague announcement is far less helpful than would be a more salient clue or even the ID of the perpetrator. Why the wraith needs Miranda when it's able to affect the physical world so dramatically itself is never addressed. Doing its part to solve the case via periodic attacks and menacing scowls, the specter pushes Miranda to escape the sanitarium and steers her to the scene of the crime, where an implausibly careless piece of telltale evidence takes her the rest of the way. But even with the proof in hand, one would think Miranda would still have her own axe-wielding homicidal incident to explain; her assertion "I'm not deluded, I'm possessed" must have been good enough for the court. But it won't cut it with genre fans, who will be more horrified by the sight of Halle Berry making out with the spherical Charles S. Dutton than anything else on the screen. Starring Halle Berry, Penelope Cruz and Robert Downey Jr. Directed by Mathieu Kassovitz. Written by Sebastian Gutierrez. Produced by Joel Silver, Robert Zemeckis and Susan Levin. A Warner Bros. release. Psychological thriller. Rated R for violence, brief language and nudity. Running time: 97 min

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