Monday, May 10, 2010

Review: Gothika (2003)

Director: Matthieu Kassovitz
Starring: Halle Berry, Robert Downey Jr., Charles S. Dutton, John Carrol Lynch

Do you ever wonder what happens to horror movie heroines after their ordeals are over? Because I do. In movies like this, about a young woman accused of murdering her husband and her trial to figure out what really happened...don't you just wonder what they do after the credits roll, when their whole lives are destroyed and everything they know has been completely screwed to all hell? Because I'm pretty sure it wouldn't end with a happy alternative rock song like Gothika does.

This movie is just cruel, is what it is. I mean, what the hell am I supposed to gain from this? A normal young woman is married to a guy who secretly made horrific torture porn snuff videos underground in some remote shack in the woods before she was possessed by a ghost and slaughtered her own husband with an ax? Frankly, all this movie really is is a test of the human will. Cruel act after cruel act is pushed onto the poor woman. Imprisoned in a mental hospital, unfairly judged by people she was once esteemed by, repeatedly sedated, locked up and looked down upon, and all because the vengeful ghost of a girl that her husband raped and murdered is trying to get revenge; don't you hate when that happens? And that's not even counting the rising horror when she finally figures out what her husband was really up to on those late nights when he didn't come home from work on time. I mean good god, what's next? Are you going to have her legs amputated and have her be raped by a crazy Vietnam veteran? It doesn't seem that far off, movie. It doesn't seem that far off!

I will say that this movie is not that badly put together on the surface. The colors are nice, the setting is creepy - although so archetypical of this kind of psychological horror that it almost looks like some kind of parody - and the effects are good. But what's the point? It's a sideshow gallery of misery. Yes, I get that there is a "meaning" to what is happening on screen, but it's not like this stuff hasn't been done before. And the whole core of the movie just comes out to being something that I didn't really feel justified in watching at the end. I didn't feel like any modicum of justice or revenge or anything had really been exacted.

Or was the movie supposed to be some kind of atonement because Halle Berry's character "didn't know how to listen" to her patients? Well, that plot just isn't elaborated on enough.

Gothika tries, but falls short of the mark. And let me remind you that it decided to sum up all of its emotional and mental stressors with a happy, soothing alternative rock tune over the end credits. I think this movie needs to see a psychiatrist more than the characters in it; it's so confused. Watch at your own peril, for all you will really get out of this one is a lot of pain and a little confusion.