April 10, 2004

Gothika vs. Jian gui

Chuck reviews Gothika, which reminds me that rented it from Netflix a couple of weeks ago. Chuck liked Gothika more than I did.

I saw Gothika and found it mediocre at best, except for some of the visual creepiness, which was top notch. It’s too bad the story was so cliched and forced, including the ending which will probably surprise you very little.

Gothika tells the story of a psychiatric doctor who is put in the place of her patients by supernatural means. The spirit of a young girl reaches out from the grave to use Berry as an instrument of justice and revenge.

I want to be fair, so I give the director credit for his eye. It’s not just the SPFX, Mathieu Kassovitz uses the camera to play up themes of loneliness, desperation and paranoia. Halle Berry’s considerable talent is used, but not to full effect.

Anyone thinking of seeing this film should see The Eye (aka. Jian gui). If you’re like me and have to see any remotely creepy movie, rent both and watch them side by side. The Eye has a lot of its plot in common with Gothika but, ironically, doesn’t rely as heavily on flashy visuals.

The Eye also deals with the theme of suddenly being trapped in an unfamiliar and frightening world. A woman receives a corneal transplant which gives her the ability to see restless spirits (a la The Sixth Sense ). As with many Asian films I’ve seen, this is a slow film with a number of punctuated moments (such as an unsettling elevator scene that may stick with you). However, it builds to an ending that is far more satisfying than that of Gothic. Even so, the pace of The Eye is noticeably uneven and the acting is less than inspirational.

The final nail in the coffin for Gothika, from my point of view, was the heavy-handed way they make their point about how naive rational people are. I watch a lot of films that require suspension of disbelief. I know I’m watching a movie. I’ll accept there are supernatural forces in your universe. But don’t try to pound me with the message (via repetition) that there is some deeper meaning in the character’s realization that her view was previously narrow-minded. Let me break it down for you — no matter how you try to make this person’s epiphany seem meaningful, no one sensible (even in a film) believes in the spirit world until their life is pretty much completely disrupted by the spirits. Surprise, surprise: extraordinary evidence convinced them.

In brief: See The Eye. Perhaps see Gothika but I don’t recommend it (thumb down).

Posted by James at April 10, 2004 6:22 PM
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Comments

Yes I thoroughly enjoyed The Eye, and in fact, I enjoyed it far more than Gothika. But I still think Gothika was okay despite the fact that it was fairly predictable.

The final nail in the coffin for Gothika, from my point of view, was the heavy-handed way they make their point about how naive rational people are. I watch a lot of films that require suspension of disbelief. I know Iím watching a movie. Iíll accept there are supernatural forces in your universe. But donít try to pound me with the message (via repetition) that there is some deeper meaning in the characterís realization that her view was previously narrow-minded. Let me break it down for you ó no matter how you try to make this personís epiphany seem meaningful, no one sensible (even in a film) believes in the spirit world until their life is pretty much completely disrupted by the spirits. Surprise, surprise: extraordinary evidence convinced them.

I figured it was all part of the suspension of disbelief. Of course Dr. Grey's experience was an epiphany for her, she lives in a fictional world where Science is practised like Faith and the supernatural exists. I didn't feel the movie was trying to make it into an epiphany or a message for me.

But I agree with you it certainly isn't the best scary movie. I just have a soft spot for ghost stories.

Posted by: Chuck S. at April 13, 2004 12:18 PM

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