For Dark Castle's fourth foray into the horror genre, the horror company strayed once again away from the William Castle-inspired remakes and, instead, delved into far too familiar territory with the terribly predictable supernatural thriller Gothika. Directed by Amélie star and acclaimed Crimson Rivers helmer Mathieu Kassovitz, this dud offers nothing new, nor anything close to horrifying for fright fans. Taking its various atmospheric and script ploys from any number of films in the spooky ghost-kid genre, this scare flick constantly seems ten steps behind, even ending with the same kind of out-of-nowhere revelation which straight-to-video shockers have been working for years. As far as acting goes, the big names are merely set dressing -- take them off of the credits and it simply becomes yet another rip-off in the post-Ring world of horror. Specifically, both Robert Downey Jr. and Bernard Hill are given nothing to do, while Academy Award winner Halle Berry seems completely lost with her character's torturous dialogue as she struggles between being a brilliant psychiatrist and "possessed" mental patient. Gothika is also hindered by its shoddy post-production work, with some dreadfully fake-looking CG fire moments and a by-the-numbers John Ottman score, which adds nothing but spooky strings to the overall blandness of the story. Basically a pastiche of subpar genre filmmaking framed around one ludicrous scenario after another, Gothika should be committed on the grounds of Hollywood once again trying to cash in on hip trends for a quick buck.
by Jeremy Wheeler review