Bomb Rating: 

Warning: Major, major spoilers.

This film reminded me of "The Ring" and not in a good way. It's another in a long line of films in which a ghost tries to communicate with the living. Apparently, there's some kind of desperate need for English teachers in purgatory because these ghosts, despite being able to open locked cell doors and possess people to perform murderous deeds, cannot get out a coherent sentence in order to clearly divulge their important messages.

See, the ghost in this film holds the secret to why Dr. Miranda Grey (Halle Berry) mysteriously murdered her husband (Charles Dutton) then awoke as a patient in her own hospital, oblivious to her misdeeds. Instead of just taking her dead husband's blood and writing on the wall, "This guy was a slimeball and he raped young women and the Sheriff helped him out and you ought to tell somebody," the ghost instead writes, "Not alone."

One has to wonder just how serious this ghost is about having Miranda figure things out. Furthermore, if the ghost can possess Miranda to kill her evil husband, why can't it just possess somebody else to kill the other guy who's in on the whole scheme? Apparently, Miranda is just having a run of really bad spiritual luck.

Then there's the issue of the end of the movie. It's one thing for Grey's patient, Chloe Sava (Penelope Cruz), to be free from the confines of the mental institution. It's quite another for Dr. Grey herself to be wandering around. There is absolutely no question that she murdered her husband. None. Since when does "possession" count as a defense in a court of law? Is there an "insane by reason of possession" defense suddenly that lets one go free? The evidence at the end of the film would suggest to any jury that Dr. Grey discovered her husband's misdeeds then buried an ax in his chest. Furthermore, she shot the Sheriff in the middle of the forehead. Do they just let you off for these things now if vindictive ghosts are involved?

The primary crime committed in "Gothika" is the one perpetrated by director James Van Praagh (rhymes with "aagh!") on an innocent audience.

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