"Gothika" and it's concept of reality
In “Gothika,” Halle Berry plays the psychologist Dr - "Gothika" and it's concept of reality introduction. Miranda Grey who has great belief in logic and rational thinking. One of her patients, Chloe, who is in a ward for the criminally insane tells her that she does not listen with her heart; rather she only listens with her brain. The prevalent idea that logic is Miranda’s downfall is epitomised by this comment. As the movie goes on, Miranda is possessed by some sort of ghost that forces her to kill her husband, and she ends up being a patient in the same ward she used to work in! The title is indeed a strange choice.
However, “Gothika” is actually the name for vicious paranormal attacks and is also the name of the town the film is, for the most part, set in. The Merriam-Webster dictionary also defines “Gothika” as “relating to a style of fiction characterised by the use of desolate or remote settings and macabre, mysterious, or violent incidents. ” The film manages to keep the audience guessing; we begin to wonder whether or not Miranda is really insane or not, who the terrifyingly terrified girl is she keeps seeing and most importantly whether each scene we see is reality, a hallucination or a dream etc.
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Just as we find ourselves believing Miranda is a very intelligent, happily employed and perfectly sane woman we are shocked to hear there is apparently conclusive evidence that she murdered her husband. Our view of Miranda completely changes, we now cannot be sure of any of our previous beliefs as to her characteristics. She is still able to think logically after the incident but this does her no good. She is utterly perplexed as to the nature of her husband’s murder and simply cannot find answers through logical thinking.
This Catch 22 scenario is not made any clearer with the random ghost/nightmare attacks Miranda has. The film takes itself too seriously to be lauded. It portrays a potentially riveting plot in a way simply too far from the realms of possible reality. Films questioning our concept of reality are very hard to pull off; “Gothika” fails in convincing us momentarily of anything. We are momentarily intrigued at points in the film but the multitude of inaccuracies and implausible scenes, effects and ideas prevent credibility. There is a scene where a police officer actually assists in her escape from the mental hospital.
Why he would help her escape while believing that she is dangerous and deluded, and that helping her in any way could cost him his job is a mystery to me! Ultimately, Miranda accepts that there are ghosts, and these ghosts go on to help set her free. The problem is there is no basis for the audience to believe in these ghosts. In a typically disappointing scene lacking in any originality Miranda seems to be finally convinced that the ghosts are real when she pleads: “… if you really were the ghost of Rachel Parsons, you would let me out of this cell. ”
Amazingly we hear the sound of the deadbolt of her cell door slide and the door opens. The film attempts to make up for the lack of plot with scary effects, which is always a bad idea. As well as unlocking doors these ghosts are also able to write spooky messages (“Not Alone”) and cut Miranda in the shower. We don’t get the slightest insight into what these “ghosts” really are and how they are able to do these physical things in our world. If “reality” includes ghosts then is this not revealed in more detail, we are expected to assume what we’re not told is irrelevant when it prevents any appreciation of the film’s philosophical plot.
The ghosts somehow vindicate Miranda in the crime of killing her husband and the film ends weakly, lacking any answers. While there’s nothing wrong in principle with mixing genres, in this instance it doesn’t work with the film seeming unsure whether it is primarily a psychological thriller or a ghost story. When she is finally converted (when she sees the light – basically when she believes the ghosts to be “real) Miranda is asked to “be logical” – to which she replies: “logic is overrated. ” This line encapsulates the movie.
It is later explained that she has finally learned how to listen (i. e. with her “heart”). Thus the moral is conveyed that scepticism, logic and critical thinking will lead you only down the path to your own destruction. It is only when you stop “using your brain” to examine the evidence and start “using your heart”, only when you stop using your “overrated” logic to attempt to make sense of a situation, will you be able to see the true nature of reality, and “save yourself”. The most powerful man on the planet, George Bush cited Jesus Christ as his favourite philosopher.
We live in a society today where more people believe in angels than the theory of evolution. It is in part due to the way the mainstream entertainment industry shapes the minds of youth and society on the whole. In this respect I don’t admire the failure to create a thought-provoking film on a very interesting subject. Hollywood exchanged credibility in “Gothika” for profits in another mediocre horror production (sadly the market for serious philosophical films is apparently not there) by means of SFX and a story that becomes laughably unrealistic.
I’m not sure there is anything in this film not seen before. If you have seen previous films such as “The Sixth Sense,” “Stir of Echoes,” “Candyman,” “What Lies Beneath,” or “The Ring” you may well ask the question “haven’t I seen this before? ” I also found the film implausible due to the ghosts and poor attempt at conveying the idea that our concept of reality is not “real. ” For instance Miranda wouldn’t be treated by her colleagues, as there are laws to prevent this from happening because it’s unethical.
She would also not be questioned by the police officer that was her husband’s friend for the same reasons. Another major flaw is Miranda and Chloe’s release at the end of the film. Regardless of whether or not they were mad, they would still be dangerous murderers. Chloe even admits murdering her step-father (her shocking description of this event is even the film’s opening scene. ) and as for Miranda, no jury would believe that a ghost killed her husband, never mind all of the forensic evidence pointing at her.
I am very much intrigued by films questioning reality like Plato did three-thousand years ago with his “Allegory of the Cave” in Book Seven of “The Republic. ” However, “Gothika” was a disappointment for me and I think “The Matrix” was a much better film, with a better script than “Gothika” although still flawed. “Gothika” was not an original piece of work like “The Matrix” and although potentially a great film it was undoubtedly average and therefore all the more disappointing.
Plato’s believed that everything that didn’t come under his definition of a “Form” was metaphysical, or in the “realm of appearances. ” As our perception of our “reality” is of an imperfect world then Plato would consider us to be living in the world of metaphysics. Only in the “World of the Forms” is everything absolute and perfect. We, as imperfect, ever changing and only perceived (not “known”) are in the “Sensible World. ” Plato’s “Two World Theory” is definitely related to in “Gothika” but the link is too minor to give any merit.
In “The Matrix” however the idea of two distinct worlds is much clearer, a perfect example from the film being when Neo is offered the choice of seeing either world (although only one is the “real world”) by taking one of two pills. The ghosts in “Gothika” can be considered as metaphysical but I don’t feel how they are displayed in the film does Plato’s much more open idea of the metaphysical justice. Expecting to learn something from the film, to open my mind to some extent with an interesting story/idea I was disappointed that all it did was further deter me from future Hollywood horrors, because I’ll have likely “seen it before. “