What's the difference between a "thriller"
and a "horror movie"? Is it blood and guts? Is it intrigue?
The Masked Reviewer isn't sure anymore.
The reason this is an
important question for a review of Gothika is because it's being
pimped as "an edge of your seat thriller". The Masked Reviewer
thinks of films like
Silence of the Lambs as a thriller.
It's not about cat scares, it's about slow build-up of tension,
excitement, and a compelling story.
The Ring (or the original Japanese film
will find a lot of similarities in Gothika. It's very
similar in terms of structure and story. It could be compared to
the original Alien was well, in terms of pacing and things
jumping out at you.
The movie seems to try to be more intriguing and intellectual than it
is; there is a better plot than, say, Jeepers Creepers 2, but
it's not particularly clever or original. They do the scary bits
well, though...they employ an exceptional variety of techniques and
timings to get you to jump out of your seat when something appears
on screen with a loud noise accompanying it.
The dialogue is rather cornball at times. Some movies are "over
written" -- a character says something really much more clever than the
character would ever say if it wasn't being written by a Hollywood
writer who loved the poetry of his (or her) own words. For
example, an insane prison inmate probably would not say "I cut his
Adam's apple like a piece of fruit on a warm summer's day." How
poetic. Perhaps with that kind of allegorical brilliance, the
inmate should have been a contributor to "Reader's Digest" rather than a
A critical point for you Halle Berry fans is that while the film is
rated R for violence, language, and nudity...you won't be seeing Halle's
berries. You think you will, several times, and it's a cruel
torture. Don't get your hopes up. Check out
Swordfish if that's what you're after. The
only nudity in here is not going to be eagerly received by many fans of
nudity, though, as the Masked Reviewer always says, "Any nudity is good
If you like films with a supernatural theme, Gothika will be
right up your alley. If you prefer logical explanations and
outcomes to things, you might think that Gothika will end up with
a happy science ending, but...no ("Logic is overrated," says one
character). It's a fine supernatural scare movie, though it does
have that familiar Ring to it.
It's also a bit of a let down in that while a mystery is presented to
the viewer, you aren't given any clues to figure out what's happening
beforehand. You're given pieces of information, then they're used
right away. One of the joys of a lot of thrillers is that you can
see the trail of breadcrumbs and you remember those things when you're
given the solution. You have an "oh yeah! That makes sense!"
moment. In this movie, you're given a hint and then it's resolved
Charles Dutton, Penelope Cruz, and John Carroll Lynch (the brother on
"The Drew Carey Show") are the supporting cast, and they're all fine, if
you like your actors a bit over-the-top in these kinds of movies.
The Masked Reviewer does. Also turning in a good performance is
Robert Downey Jr., who manages to bring an added dimension to the role.
Perhaps that's because the movie is mostly set in a prison and he's done
some extra research which he can draw from.
Halle Berry looks good in every scene. They try to make her up
to look horrible when the story calls for it, but she still looks great.
The director must have found this very frustrating.
Though not everyone will fall for every scary booby trap, many of
them are effective and it will either leave you on the edge of your seat
or quivering on the floor clutching your tub of popcorn and rocking back
and forth in a puddle of sweat...at least, you'll hope it's sweat.
It lacks the humor of most horror movies, and it's not particularly
gory, though there is a bit of blood. The movies does what it sets
out to do...make you jump. It's not deep, which is only an issue
because of the way it seems to be marketed. Go in expecting a
supernatural seat-jumper, and you'll probably have a good time.
Expectation from the Title: Jim Flambabble was always a
Times New Roman man when it came to fonts. Until one day, during a
freak electrical storm, he discovered a new font that would
Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):
Halle Berry has a beautiful complexion.
The Pros: A few good scares. Halle Berry is succulent
and juicy and Robert Downey Jr. is squeezably soft.
The Cons: Not as clever or deep as you might hope. Loose
ends not tied up. Tries to be a mystery but doesn't give the
viewer clues to figure it out beforehand. Too similar to The