If you’re looking at the new finds on Netflix for January, you’ll see a Halle Berry movie you might not have checked out before. You’re not going to find Gothika on a list of Halle Berry’s best movies, though that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth watching. Her horror movie came out right around peak Halle Berry, the same time as some of her most popular films. Two years after Monster’s Ball, right in between X-Men and X-Men United, and just before the poorly received Catwoman, was this horror-mystery-thriller.
In Gothika Halle Berry plays Dr. Miranda Grey. The trailer calls her an expert in what is considered rational. She works at a psychiatric facility, where she helps patients. After an accident she barely remembers, she wakes up a few days later locked in a cell in her own workplace. She is informed that her husband is dead. Everyone she knows and cares about believes she did it. Halle Berry co-stars in this movie with Robert Downey Jr., who plays her colleague and then her psychiatrist, and Penelope Cruz, her patient.
So what can you expect from Gothika? Roger Ebert had a fun review for it in November 2003. He gave the movie three stars and said, “I cherished this movie in all of its lurid glory”. He recommended the Halle Berry thriller, with the caveat that you should know what it is before you turn it on. Go in expecting “fun trash”, he said. Ebert outlined a list of questions you could ask about the plot. Then the venerable film critic said, “But those are all bothersome details of plausibility and logic, and those are the last two qualities you should seek in “Gothika.” This is a psychothriller with the plausibility of a nightmare — which is to say, it doesn’t make sense, but it keeps your attention.”
This tracks with other people’s experiences. So many of the articles you find on Gothika with a light Google search are just trying to make sense of the movie’s many pieces. This isn’t a mystery where you want to pay attention carefully to the details. This is a thriller where you should turn your questions off for a while. It’s time to let yourself enjoy Halle Berry trying to make sense of a world that doesn’t make sense.
Gothika didn’t do terribly at the box office in November 2003, so you may have caught Halle Berry in this movie already. However, it’s likely been long enough now you could enjoy it without remembering the end. The film earned $141 million worldwide, with $19.2 million earned during its opening weekend. It ranked number two that weekend behind the family movie The Cat in the Hat, an easier choice on a Thanksgiving weekend.
Are you in the mood to have your mind twisted and confused? Are you looking for an experience like Momento? Do you want to relive those few days you spent discussing Inception? Then avoid Halle Berry’s Gothika right now. Are you in the mood for something more like Secret Window or Hide and Seek, which also came out in the early 2000s? Then you might want to watch Halle Berry in this light thriller that lets you escape for an hour and a half into your Netflix queue.