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"Halle Berry is succulent and juicy and Robert Downey Jr. is squeezably soft."




The Masked Reviewer

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. 

Fans of The Ring (or the original Japanese film Ringu) 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 murderer. 

A critical point for you Halle Berry fans is that while the film is rated R for violence, language, and 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 Monster's Ball and 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 nudity." 

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, ("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 almost immediately.

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 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 Ring.

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