- Halle Berry as Dr. Miranda Grey
- Robert Downey, Jr. as Dr. Pete Graham
- Charles S. Dutton as Dr. Doug Grey
- Penélope Cruz as Chloe Sava
- John Carroll Lynch as Sheriff Ryan
Yes the plot may be preposterous and the final act may fly off the rails, but for the first hour or so Gothika does keep you entertained and evokes some genuinely scary moments. It is very much a film of two halves, but if you go into it without questioning logic and reason, you might just enjoy this horror/ supernatural thriller.
Miranda Grey is a gifted psychiatrist working at a mental hospital for women. Married to the director Doug and very rational when it comes to her work, Miranda’s life is ordinary enough. Until, one stormy night after her session with a patient named Chloe, Miranda is driving home when she has to take a detour after a closure of a number of roads. Whilst driving, she crashes her car after swerving from a young girl standing in the road. Upon exiting her car, she comes face to face with the girl who suddenly bursts into flames. The next thing Miranda knows she is back in the mental hospital, only this time she is one of the patients. She has been asleep for three days and to make matters worse, she is being accused of murdering her husband. Confused and deeply horrified, Miranda attempts to fathom the events that occurred that fateful night as those around her, including a good friend Dr. Pete Graham, begin to doubt Miranda’s story. The girl who she saw before she blacked out keeps appearing, is she real or just a figment of Miranda’s imagination? Delving deep into her mind, Miranda begins to slowly recover her memory and is pushed to the edge of her sanity as her world falls apart and the events around her become darker. Although full of schlock and a certain unevenness to its tone, Gothika at least succeeds in part due to its stylish direction from Mathieu Kassovitz.
For the good first hour or so, Mathieu Kassovitz keeps Gothika ticking over with frightening imagery, moody lighting and kinetic camera angles that capture Miranda’s life being turned upside down. If anything, the overall visual look and chilling sets keep Gothika rising above the by the numbers script.The atmosphere created is very spooky indeed as we are thrown into Miranda’s tailspin of emotions as she questions what really happened and how she ended up on the other side of the glass. The music provided is suitably eerie and frequently utilised to great effect. Unfortunately, the film as a whole does not feel even enough, as plot holes begin to appear during the last act. It does have its share of scary moments, but many of these feel repetitive and clichéd to say the least. The supernatural element is handled in an ok fashion in the beginning but soon descends into hokey elements. What does keep Gothika from being all bad is the performances. Halle Berry rises above the scripts flaws and excellently portrays Miranda as she is thrown into a nightmare and attempts a way out of the bizarre case. She evokes a sense of confusion and shock that does make you feel for her. Robert Downey Jr. is great as the psychiatrist who is forced to leave his personal feelings at the door when it comes to analysing what Miranda remembers and whether or not she is mentally unstable or indeed innocent of the crime of which she stands accused. In supporting roles, Charles S. Dutton and John Carroll Lynch are fine as the murdered man and his lifelong best friend and sheriff attached to the murder case. Penélope Cruz creates an interesting character in Chloe, injecting menace and a certain vulnerability, as we watch her and Miranda go from patient and psychiatrist relationship to trusting one another.
So all in all, Gothika is flawed and full of plot holes. But if you don’t question this you may enjoy the scary atmosphere, Kassovitz’s visual style and some good performances.