Hokum scarum

Movie: Gothika

Our Rating: 2.00

Consider it a karmic bitch-slap that the eternally offensive Halle Berry keeps cropping up in movies like this contrived supernatural thriller, which casts history's least deserving Oscar recipient as a "brilliant" prison psychiatrist locked up in her own (possibly haunted) mental ward. Only slightly more believable as a shrink than J. Lo was in "The Cell," Berry plays Dr. Miranda Grey, a woman consigned to the psych unit for the mysterious murder of her husband (Charles S. Dutton) -- who also happens to have been her boss. Having the good doctor's captivity overseen by all her former colleagues (including a sniveling Robert Downey Jr.) is a whopping implausibility, and watching it proceed unchallenged by the lousy script is almost as much fun as wondering what life is like in that parallel universe where a Charles Dutton can marry a Halle Berry. (Maybe Gore is president there!) Somebody in the starlet's camp is on the ball, though, because the jailhouse milieu allows the Academy's favorite Stuff cover model to go swimming, shower and run around in clingy prison outfits. (Wait ... clingy?) The appearance of Penélope Cruz as a spooked inmate, meanwhile, performs the neat trick of ensuring that Berry is not the worst actress in the movie. Salient quote: "Right now, my mind is running on empty." Yeah, it's going around.

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