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Film / Gothika

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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, and with an ominous gap in her memory from when it allegedly happened. To make matters worse, she is also being tormented by visions of a mutilated young woman and the message 'Not Alone' repeated in her life. Notable for a strong but under-used supporting cast, including Robert Downey Jr., Penélope Cruz, Charles S Dutton and Bernard Hill.


This film series provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Alone with the Psycho: At the climax, when Miranda realizes that Ryan is Doug's accomplice.
  • Arc Words: "Not alone".
    • Also, "I'm your God". Becomes a Fridge Horror when you realize that Doug is previously heard saying it to Miranda early in the film.
  • Asshole Victim: Turns out Doug and Ryan are this when they meet their ends.
  • Ax-Crazy: Miranda temporarily becomes so when posessed by a vengeful ghost.
  • An Axe to Grind: The ghost has one with Doug.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Discussed Trope when Dr. Miranda Grey explains her theory about the killer's accomplice's origins with the sheriff, which as a budding serial killer probably included torturing animals from a young age onwards. Then subverted when the sheriff reveals in a Wham Line that he never did enjoy it.
  • Beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts: One of the earlier encounters with the ghost fits this trope.
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  • Big Bad: Ryan.
  • Blood Bath: Miranda is revealed to bathe herself in Doug's blood after killing him.
  • Cassandra Truth: Miranda may have killed her husband, but she wasn't crazy; she was possessed.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Willow Creek. Said in passing by Doug early, but is visited by Miranda late to the film, where she finds out about Doug's kidnapping and raping of numerous young women.
  • Chekhov's Hobby: Miranda's hobby is swimming and is shown doing 55 turns early in the film. She puts her skill in good use while avoiding the security guards.
  • Cuckoo Nest
  • Dirty Cop: Ryan.
  • Distant Finale: The epilogue is set a year after the climax.
  • Don't Think, Feel: Miranda's strict dedication to logic is criticized by Chloe, who states that she is as good as dead if she does not follow her heart. Chloe's right, she needs to forgo logic if she wants to see the supernatural.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Chloe, thanks to years of spending time in the penitentiary. Turns into Raven Hair, Ivory Skin in the epilogue, where, after being released and allowed to enjoy the world, she becomes a fully-unblemished Penélope Cruz.
  • Eureka Moment: Miranda remembers about Willow Creek when she looks up at her old photos with Doug and recalls that Doug's last word to her was also that place.
  • Fanservice: Halle Berry as Miranda swimming is as sexy as you think it is.
  • Fan Disservice: On the other hand, Miranda spends her time in the penitentiary wearing loose shirts that show her belly when she does so much as lift her hands, but considering her condition, it's not as titillating as one might think.
    • The shower scene is also this, seeing that everyone is blemished and Miranda gets slashing marks on her left hand at the end of it.
    • Ryan goes shirtless during the climax to show the Anima Sola tattos on his back and chest, but do you want to see him shirtless?
  • Fat Bastard: Both Doug and Ryan.
  • 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. Sheriff 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."
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Doug is this. He masterminded the kidnappings, rapings, and killings, while Ryan just mostly tagged along. However, Rachel is able to possess Miranda and kill him near the start of the film, so the Big Bad status is relegated to Ryan.
  • Haunted Heroine: Miranda Grey.
  • Hidden Depths: Chloe is much more sentimental than what she appears to be. Particularly when she converses with Miranda in the park, which is quite a bit Tear Jerker since no one except Miranda believes her. She even befriends Miranda after the crime is exposed, showing that she is a reasonable person and not at all insane.
    Chloe: He may take my body, but he will never take my heart.
  • Lovecraft Country: Set in and around New England. The penitentiary is built somewhere in rural Connecticut, while Willow Creek is located in Rhode Island. The epilogue is set in NYC. Downplayed, though, since, while there is something supernatural going on, it's helping the protagonist.
  • Motifs: Flames. The flames aren't literal, though. It's part of the Anima Sola, A.K.A the Woman in Purgatory, i.e. those who were wronged in life. It's foreshadowing the fact that the victims were murdered, not suicidal.
    • Water. Miranda's hobby is swimming (which she puts into use later on) and she first meets Rachel's ghost during a torrential rain. She also meets with her again during a particularly freakish scene in the shower.
  • Nightmare Sequence: Miranda uses this twice to explain some paranormal encounters. Once in the beginning and once again in the containment cell.
  • Psycho Psychologist: It turns out that Doug used his position as the head of a mental institution for women to allow himself and his partner-in-crime to rape several of the patients.
  • 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.
  • Returning to the Scene: Discussed and defied when someone asks one of the killers why he didn't go back to the crime scene to remove evidence once his partner in crime was out of the picture. He responds that this is the fastest way to get caught and it's smarter to "let the dust settle". Of course, as the town's sheriff he should know this.
  • Serial Rapist: The major reveal in the film is that Doug and Sheriff Ryan were a duo of serial rapists/killers who kidnapped numerous women to molest them repeatedly and force them to do whatever they wanted.
  • Surprisingly Happy Ending: Very surprising for a DCE film. It looks like Miranda is once again going to be a Cassandra, even after discovering some evidence in Willow Creek that leads to her husband being stamped a rapist. However, she manages to uncover the second rapist at the last minute: Ryan, and, with the help of Rachel's ghost, kills him. This time, everyone else believes her (thanks to Pete researching the tattoo) and she is cleared of all charges and is implied to recover her job again. This evidence even frees Chloe from the penitentiary, and she and Miranda become good friends in the ending.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: You can only see ghosts if you don't follow logic all the time.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Specifically, big fat 50-something guy, Halle Berry wife.
  • Unnaturally Blue Lighting: The whole film seems to be filmed behind a blue lens. The only scenes where a shade of blue is not prominent is the scenes at the Grey's home and the Willow Creek, both of which are where Miranda manages to fully recover her memories and eventually finds out Doug's role in the killings.
  • Vigilante Execution: Considering the true colors of Doug coming to light, it turns out Rachel possessing Miranda to kill him turns out to be this as well as a Roaring Rampage of Revenge to avenge her death at the hands of her killer Doug. This is likely the reason why Miranda was later released from the asylum at the end due to her crime being an act of justifiable vigilantism.
  • Villainous Friendship: The serial killer/rapist is eventually revealed to have had an accomplice. After Sheriff 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.
    Sheriff 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 Purée 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 (even if none other than she didn't do it to herself), she starts ranting...


Example of: