Film: Gothika

Gothika is a 2003 American supernatural thriller directed by Mathieu Kassovitz and written by Sebastian Gutierrez. Halle Berry plays Dr. Miranda Grey, a psychiatrist in a women's mental hospital who wakes up one day to find herself on the other side of the bars, accused of having murdered her husband and boss Doug. To make matters worse, she is also being tormented by visions of a mutilated young woman. Notable for a strong but under-used supporting cast, including Robert Downey, Jr., PenÚlope Cruz, Charles S Dutton and Bernard Hill.


This film series provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Ax-Crazy: Miranda temporarily becomes so when posessed by a vengeful ghost.
  • An Axe to Grind: The ghost has one with Doug.
  • The Bechdel Test: Miranda and Chloe hardly ever speak of romance or men. The setting is too grim for that.
  • Beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts: One of the earlier encounters with the ghost fits this trope.
  • Cassandra Truth: Miranda may have killed her husband, but she wasn't crazy, she was possessed.
  • Cuckoo Nest
  • Freudian Excuse: After the serial killing rapist is unveiled, Dr. Grey speculates that the killer's accomplice grew up with an absent father and an over-dependent relationship with his mother which turned into sexual desire, got pleasure from torturing small animals as a kid, and is confused about his sexuality as an adult. Sherrif Ryan only disputes the part that he enjoyed killing animals.
  • "Get out of Jail Free" Card: Miranda Grey DID murder her husband, at least by your average legal definition. And a cop. She gets pretty much let off at the end, and while it's not without justifications and the Sheriff was killed in self-defence, she still must have had one HELL of a lawyer.
  • Ghostly Goals: The ghost wants revenge...and justice for her rape and murder. So she killed Doug using his wife's body, then led Miranda to find out about Doug's atrocities, saving another girl, and revealing her circumstances to her family. Then she killed the doctor's accomplice.
  • Girls Behind Bars: Notably averted. There is a Shower Scene with dozens of women, but thanks mostly to the lighting and a complete lack of makeup, the older, average-looking women heavily outweigh even Halle Berry's sexiness. In the prison scenes, all the convicts, right down to the lovely Penelope Cruz, appear pasty and drab.
  • A God Am I: A particularly creepy example shows up when Miranda discovers the torture dungeon that Doug used to rape and kill his female victims in. As she watches one of the videotapes that he shot in which he just finished molesting another woman, he walks up to the camera, adjusts his tie and states "It's good to be God. I love you." Near the end, Sheriff Ryan (Doug's friend and accomplice in his rape/molestation/murder of young women) reveals that they shared the sentiment, saying "We were their God."
  • Nightmare Sequence: Miranda uses this twice to explain some paranormal encounters. Once in the beginning and once again in the containment cell.
  • Red Herring: One film critic joked that Robert Downey, Jr.'s character should have just been named Red Herring; it was so obvious that's what he was.
  • Serial Rapist: The major reveal in the film is that Doug and Sherrif Ryan were a duo of serial rapists/killers who kidnapped numerous women to molest them repeatedly and force them to do whatever they wanted.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Specifically, big fat 50-something guy, Halle Berry wife.
  • Villainous Friendship: The serial killer/rapist is eventually revealed to have had an accomplice. After Sherrif Ryan is revealed as Doug's accomplice, he states that he helped Doug out with his first kill because they were friends, and since then they have been destroying countless lives for their depraved gratification. Ryan goes on a rampage against Miranda as revenge for killing Doug (she was possessed by the ghost of one of the victims).
  • Wham Line: After Dr. Grey speculates about the psychological profile of a culprit trying to cover his tracks, this line by Doug's accomplice leaves zero doubt about the culprit's true nature and that Miranda's life is in danger.
    Sherrif Ryan: Well you're right. I do fit the profile. Long-time friend of Doug's, access to the prison. I never did get a kick out of torturing animals, though.
  • Word Puree Title: The "word" Gothika has no relevance to the film in any way, other than a ghost story set in a spooky hospital being vaguely gothic.
  • You Have to Believe Me: Miranda gets her arm slashed with the words "NOT ALONE" while in the group shower. She was out of sight for only a few seconds, yet the wounds are many and quite precise. There's also no weapon to be found anywhere. Instead of pointing out these facts and letting her keepers arrive at a conclusion (something's very much not right here), she starts ranting...