GOTHIKA (2003) Reviews and overview

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Gothika is a 2003 American supernatural horror film directed by Mathieu Kassovitz from a screenplay written by Sebastian Gutierrez for Dark Castle Entertainment productions.

The movie stars Halle Berry, Robert Downey, Jr., Charles S. Dutton, John Carroll Lynch, Bernard Hill and Penélope Cruz.


Psychiatrist Doctor Miranda Grey (Halle Berry) works at a mental hospital and has a car accident after trying to avoid a girl (Kathleen Mackey) on a road during a stormy night, while driving back home. She rushes to try to help the girl. The girl turns out to in fact be a ghost, and possesses Miranda’s body by burning her after she extends her hand to the girl. Miranda loses consciousness.

Miranda next wakes up in the very hospital she works for, but as a patient treated by her co-worker, Doctor Pete Graham (Robert Downey, Jr.). Drugged and confused, she remembers nothing of what happened after the car accident.

To her horror, she learns that her husband Douglas (Charles S. Dutton) was murdered and that she is the primary suspect. While Miranda copes with her new life in the hospital, the ghost uses her body to carry out messages (most noticeably, she carves the words “not alone” into Miranda’s arm) which leads her former colleagues to believe Miranda is suicidal and is inflicting the wounds on herself.

Meanwhile, Miranda bonds with a fellow inmate and former patient, Chloe Sava (Penélope Cruz). Several times in sessions, Chloe had claimed that she’d been carnally assaulted while in the hospital, but Miranda had always attributed these stories to mental illness.

One night, the door to Miranda’s room in the hospital is opened by the ghost that has been haunting her. When she passes Chloe’s room in the hospital, she can hear the assault occurring and momentarily sees a man’s chest pressed against the window. The man’s chest bears a tattoo of an Anima Sola. Miranda realizes that Chloe was not making up these stories…



“Any review that faults it for going over the top into lurid overkill is criticizing its most entertaining quality. Any critic who mocks the line “I’m not deluded, Pete — I’m possessed!” should be honest enough to admit that, in the moment, he liked it. It takes nerve to make a movie like this in the face of the taste police, but Kassovitz and Berry have the right stuff.”

“The jumpy twists are terrifying enough; the loony asylum is a Gothic masterpiece; but the continuity is sloppy.” James Christopher, The Sunday Times

” … it’s at least a well made and nice looking film. Kassovitz and DP Matthew Libatique certainly have good eyes, and kudos to them for keeping the movie visually interesting even when it seems like a third of it takes place in Berry’s tiny cell. The title actually refers to the set design…” Horror Movie a Day


“Constantly bouncing from derivative to ridiculous and back to derivative again, Gothika will be tolerable for undiscriminating horror fans but should be shunned by everybody else.” San Francisco Chronicle

“There is definitely some unintentional humor in Gothika and the actors seem to be taking their roles far too seriously, but it is also dripping with dark and creepy horror atmosphere, and there are some genuinely chilling haunting sequences as well (some of the jerky-moving phantoms from Thirteen Ghosts are back on duty here in the psych ward).”

Cast and characters:

Halle Berry as Doctor Miranda Grey
Robert Downey, Jr. as Doctor Pete Graham
Charles S. Dutton as Doctor Douglas Grey
John Carroll Lynch as Sheriff Ryan
Penélope Cruz as Chloe Sava
Bernard Hill as Phil Parsons
Dorian Harewood as Teddy Howard
Bronwen Mantel as Irene
Kathleen Mackey as Rachel Parsons
Matthew G. Taylor as Turlington
Michael Perron as Joe
Andrea Sheldon as Tracey Seaver


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