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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Little Town Blues

Gothika (2003) on IMDb

Plot Overview

sleeping womanPsychiatrist Dr. Miranda Grey (Halle Berry) is frus­trated trying to treat her patient Chloe Sava (Penélope Cruz) who insists she's being periodic­ally raped at night by the devil. Whether or not you or I believe in a devil, the estab­lish­ment shrinks at Wood­ward Penitentiary in upstate Connecticut sure don't. How­ever, the continually revolving camera, with a twisting lens on a sleeping form, encourages us to consider all possibilities.

Driving home from work in a gully washer Dr. Miranda swerves to miss an apparition, hits her head, and blacks out. She comes to in the psychiatric ward where she work[ed], now a patient accused of an horrific crime she has no memory of or motive for. Her husband Dr. Douglas Grey (Charles S. Dutton) having been her only family is quite gone. All her friends are from work who now peg her as crazy. Her one out­side friend Teddy Howard (Dorian Hare­wood) is her lawyer who sees a temporary insanity plea as her only defense. With no sensible social support, Miranda becomes distraught, which is so contrary to the logical doctor image she has cultivated that it just reinforces the crazy woman notion. Ironically, the patient Chloe is now the only under­standing friend she's got (“You're one of us now.”)


The roving camera does a number on the civil rights saw Black is beautiful, when it comes in for an extreme closeup of the portly Dr. Douglas. There's a reason why fat actors aren't picked for closeups, and black skin doesn't change that. If that were not enough, the sloppy kiss he plants on his wife is about the grossest screen kiss I've ever seen. Miranda, how­ever, who looks to be about 1/8 black, substant­iates the reputation of octoroons for their beauty. She's gorgeous.

Dr. Douglas wears a well tailored suit and tie at work, and to check on the contractors at his farm­house in Willow Creek, Rhode Island. At his big house he lounges in suspenders and cuff links. He cuts a fine figure despite his weight; the clothes make the man. He smokes a fine cigar. Miranda looks great with­out any clothes, in the shower seen from behind. She's this black man's trophy wife and he treats her well.

Dr. Douglas is—was—the director of Wood­ward Pen. Early in the film, before he was eliminated, he had a consultation with Dr. Miranda about Chloe:

Dr. Douglas Grey: [handing a Miranda a glass of water] Throw it on the mirror. This is what she sees now.

Miranda: A distorted image of herself.

Dr. Douglas Grey: Who are you in all this?

Miranda: I'm the mirror.

Dr. Douglas Grey: You are the mirror.

Miranda: If I'm the mirror and she's the image … then who are you?

Dr. Douglas Grey: I can see both of you … so I'm God. Or just an over­worked hospital bureaucrat.

Miranda: “God” is good.

He has control over both Miranda and Chloe calling them his “kids,” and he's got some kind of a God complex. Not unheard of, (1John 2:18) “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that anti­christ shall come, even now are there many anti­christs; whereby we know that it is the last time.” Some are black and some are white. It used to be a black man wasn't trusted in the cat­bird seat, but noting the pictures on his office wall of Doug with a civil rights leader and of Doug with President Clinton—not to mention the black lawyer—we see times have changed and this bedroom community has kept up. The senior security guard on the night shift is also black. Douglas keeps a younger (white) girl­friend at Willow Creek, but a lot of people fool around.

The horror starts coming out when we look at the art. A big deal is made of Chloe's “devil” having a tattoo of an Anima Sola, a woman being devoured by flames reaching up for help. Fellow psychiatrist Pete Graham (Robert Downey Jr.) does a WEB search to see its source in South American religious beliefs and Mexican legends. Chloe is Latina.

wildebeestDouglas has only bland landscapes and still life paintings on his wall. How­ever, his objets d'art of African pottery begin to tell his heritage. And there's a figurine of a wildebeest, a kind of African antelope that numbers a million strong and is a staple food source for all the large predators in the area. In a woo woo horror film, art that depicts a multi­tud­inous prey does not bode well.

When the chickens come home to roost for a terrified Douglas, we might be reminded of the blood­hounds in a Steve Berry novel: (23)

Fierce, long-legged, and blessed with amazing endurance and strength, his hounds were well trained. They were also skilled climbers, capable of scaling tall trees, as today's target would shortly discover if he foolishly thought high branches would offer him security.

Cuban blood hounds had been bred long ago for one purpose.

Hunting black fugitives.

Ghosts aren't supposed to possess people to commit acts of violence. Yeah, but dogs aren't supposed to climb trees either.

In the aftermath we see Miranda and Chloe in a more cosmopolitan city looking for work where minorities are properly accepted. And Miranda has dyed her hair so she can pass for white. I think their former town had a rude awakening.

Production Values

” (2003) was directed by Mathieu Kassovitz with Thom Oliphant as an ‘Added Scenes’ credit. It was written by Sebastian Gutierrez. It stars Halle Berry, Robert Downey Jr, Penelope Cruz, and John Carroll Lynch. Berry isn't particularly moving. Cruz can't get us to care. Downey Jr is passable and likable as chief of the medical staff. Bernard Hill captures well a father who still grieves for his deceased daughter. Charles S. Dutton is excellent but quickly written out of the script.

MPAA rated it R for violence, brief language and nudity. It was filmed in Oka, Québec, Canada. Every shot is dark, many punctuated by flickering fluores­cent lights. The movie has a hard time making up its mind what it wants to be. Deliberately distorted images enhance its confusion of direction.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

This one works just fine as a creepy ‘B’ film. It leaves one walking away wondering what just happened. That might not be a bad thing in a ghost story.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Three stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Berry, Steve. The Columbus Affair. Copyright © 2012 by Steve Berry. New York: Ballantine Books, 2012. Print.