Gothika (2003)
Warner Home Video
Cast: Halle Berry, Robert Downey Jr., Charles S. Dutton, Bernard hill, Penélope Cruz
Extras: Commentray Track, Music Video, Trailer

Once in a while you encounter films that steal left and right from earlier movies to tell their story, and yet they somehow manage to remain efficient and entertaining. ’Gothika’ is such a film, borrowing from various genre classics, most notably from ’The Sixth Sense’ and ’The Ring.’ It tells the story of a criminal psychologist, played by Halle Berry, who suddenly finds herself on the other side of the table when after a mental black-out she’s accused of having savagely killed her husband. She remembers no such thing and tries to convince her psychologist that she’s not in a state of denial but that in fact she had a ghostly encounter during that time… needless to say her pleads are falling on deaf ears, as everyone thinks she has become a mental case. But has she really?

Warner Home Video presents ’Gothika’ in a wonderful widescreen presentation on this DVD that is rich and offers an extremely high level of definition. The image is absolutely clean and free of defects and reproduces every little bit of detail from the original film elements. Colors are string and vibrant, creating atmospheric hues and an oppressing gloom at times that is truly adding to the film’s intensity. The deep blacks of the transfer created shadows that are impenetrable at times, yet never lose definition even in the darkest of shots. Highlights are perfectly balanced creating stark contrasts that never bloom. The compression has been handled with care and no compression artifacts or edge-enhancement mar the presentation.

The audio on the disc comes as a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital presentation that is very aggressive and makes constant use of the surround channels. The frequency response is very wide with powerful low ends that shake the woofer and clear high ends to top off the spectrum. Dialogues are well integrated and never drowned out by the intense sound effects or the music.

A commentary track by director Mathieu Kassowitz offering further insight into the story and characters is also provided on the DVD, expanding the level of information and understanding of the subject.

The music video for the pathetically juvenile ’Behind Blue Eyes’ song by Limb Bizkit is also included on the DVD but given the fact that the song’s lyrics are so totally retarded and that it felt entirely out of place in the movie, I’m not sure what value this video adds to the overall release.

Overall, ’Gothika’ is thoroughly enjoyable and intense psychological horror thriller with some nice twists thrown in. The question of what is real and what is not permeates the film and makes for some truly unsettling 98 minutes. Give it a try sometime.