If Gothika ends up getting remembered for anything, it’ll be as a pivotal moment in Robert Downey Jr.’s career, when the troubled hellraiser finally put his personal demons in the past, knuckled down and swiftly became one of the biggest movie stars of the modern era. After all, while it’s certainly an underrated film, there’s still not a great deal about Matthieu Keassovitz’s psychological chiller that sticks in the memory after you’ve seen it.
Halle Berry continued her trawl through B-level genre movies that characterized the years immediately following her Academy Award win for Best Actress, playing a psychiatrist who wakes up in the mental hospital she runs with no memory of how she got there. Because this is an atmospheric thriller we’re talking about, there’s obviously a catch, and Gothika hinges on Berry’s Dr. Miranda Grey having to unravel the mystery surrounding her while also trying to prove that she’s not responsible for the murder of her husband.
Suffice it to say, the plot twists and turns into some pretty implausible and increasingly credibility-stretching directions, and a lot of people may have checked out long before the ludicrous third act comes along and almost derails the entire thing, but for those who enjoy their horrors as ridiculous and undemanding as possible, there’s certainly some enjoyment to be wrought from Gothika and if you’re looking for a couple hours of thrills and a few solid scares, you can definitely do much worse.
It was a decent-sized box office hit in November 2003 as well after raking in over $140 million against a $40 million budget, but the critical consensus wasn’t exactly glowing. That being said, Gothika is exactly the kind of polarizing yet divertingly schlocky thriller that always tends to play well on Netflix, and will likely put a dent in the streaming service’s Top 10 most-watched list when it gets added to the library later this week, on January 1st. If you’re looking for an overlooked and underrated horror film, be sure to check it out.