Retro Review: Gothika

Halle Berry goes crazy and “rings” a little to close to another popular horror film.

Halle Berry stars as psychiatrist Miranda Grey, who works in an elaborate mental institution headed by her husband, Dr. Douglas Grey (Charles S. Dutton). Miranda’s friend Pete (Robert Downey Jr.) also works with Doug and Miranda.

During a freakish rainstorm, the institution suffers from several power-outages and forces Miranda to return home to Doug.

During her trip home, she is detoured across a country bridge where she narrowly misses a naked girl wandering in of the middle road.

This is all Miranda can remember.

And now she has just awoke within the walls of her own institution not as a doctor but as a patient. Is she crazy?

She might just be because during her memory relapse, she also murdered Doug.

The first half of the film has a lot of the tension and paranoia audiences felt in last year’s horror phenomenon “The Ring” but by the second half I was waiting for Morgan Freeman’s Alex Cross to come out from the shadows and solve Halle’s case.

Halle Berry’s desperation, sweat-soaked institution attire and frayed hair add oodles to her powerful performance.

But even as the role does allow her to go way over the top we still don’t feel a lot for her character.

Within this performance is some of what we got in “Monster’s Ball” but not enough to make the film really captivate.

Downey Jr. is bored to tears in the pining for Halle role.

It is such a waste to see such a natural and brilliant actor reduced to this “Demerol-induced” drone.

The performance by Penelope Cruz is strong and daring. It is her scenes with Halle that are the most memorable of this film. The two actresses together are quite impressive as we can see them feeding off each other.

The whole mass patient shower scene where Halle is struck down was in such poor taste that I was literally shaking my head thinking was I actually seeing a late-night “Cinemax” moment on the silver screen. It was awful probably the worst excuse for a shower scene since “Starship Troopers”.

The film did have a few frights and some very interesting camera angles. Some of the slow motion effects and visual effects were impressive and made for nice moody mental moments. But for the most part we had seen all of it before.

It is a shame this is Halle’s first giant role since her Oscar win but without Halle and some clever camera uses, this could have been a “Full Moon Entertainment” horror film instead of a “Dark Castle” production.

Oh and one last thing, “The Ring” girl is back.

(2 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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