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The Forgotten Halle Berry Psychological Thriller You Can Stream On Netflix

The year was 2003. Halle Berry was fresh off of a historic Best Actress win at the Academy Awards for her performance in Monster's Ball, but didn't yet have 2005's Catwoman hanging around her neck like a catalbatross. Screenwriter Sebastian Gutierrez, meanwhile, was still relatively unknown and a man whose true potential would not be realized until his script for Snakes On A Plane was brought to life in 2006. And then there was Robert Downey Jr., at this point a nigh-uninsurable wildcard whose recent run-ins with the law were inextricably latched to his image, making him — for what would prove to be one of the final times in his career — affordable.

All of these moving parts collided at once, and when the dust settled, there was Gothika. Helmed by French director Mathieu Kassovitz, it tells the story of Dr. Miranda Grey (Berry), the second most successful fictional medical professional with that surname to shimmy out of the 2000s. Grey works at a prison in the women's ward — that is, until she wakes up to find that she has been committed to the same penitentiary and is under the care of her former colleague (Downey Jr.) following the gruesome death of her husband. Complicating matters, she's sporadically accompanied by what sure seems to be the ghost of a little girl who she may or may not have hit with her car, and who has taken an interest in practicing typography by carving words into Grey's tender flesh.

Gothika cuts deep and gets weird

Gothika puts into play some of the worst case scenarios for a human being: the loss of agency, the inability to remember one's own past, the idea that the dead might walk among us, largely unseen and uniformly cranky. In many ways, the only thing more horrifying to comprehend than the plot of Gothika would have to be the reviews for Gothika.

The film wasn't particularly well received, garnering a 15% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 45% positive audience score. In one of the movie's few upbeat reviews, Roger Ebert gave it three stars, stating that "movies are so rarely great art that if we cannot appreciate great trash, we might as well stop going. I don't know if she would have defined Gothika as great trash, but in trash as in art there is no accounting for taste, and reader, I cherished this movie in all of its lurid glory." Financially, Gothika did well enough, with Box Office Mojo reporting that it pulled in over $140 million on a $40 million budget, which at least takes the sting out of the fact that it opened in second place behind a much more effective psychological thriller, Mike Myers's The Cat in the Hat.

Almost 20 years later, Gothika, which is now available to stream on Netflix, can be best summed up as a guilty pleasure horror offering, an occasionally unsettling B-movie on an A-minus budget, and, most importantly, the only time we'll ever get to see Storm and Iron Man share the same scene.