Gothika

Partially Recommended. Just why they called this Gothika, I’ll never know. It’s about a psychiatrist played by Halle Berry, who helps mentally insane criminals. One of them is a woman who killed her husband (Penelope Cruz). Halle tries to help the woman but she responds, “How can you trust someone who thinks you’re crazy?” Halle has this strange dreamlike experience with a young abused girl in the rain and wakes up in the insane asylum. All memory of her last three days has been lost to her. Turns out she has killed her loving husband, the head of the Psych ward, and she is now in the asylum with her patients trying to figure out what really happened to her, while at the same time being haunted by this girl who turns out to be dead. Although this is a formula movie, I think it is a pretty good ghost story. The great thing about modern ghost stories is what they do for the social moral conscience. Modern ghost stories are usually about the ghosts of dead people haunting because of unfinished justice for their deaths. A Ghost story is not about being scared for the sake of being scared, it is about moral conscience. It is an embodiement of the biblical principle that the blood of a murdered person cries up from the ground to God (Genesis 4:10). It is a metaphor for the repressed conscience in man (Romans 1:18). Man represses the sin he does, hides from his guilt like Adam and Eve hid from God in the Garden when they sinned. But since man is created in the image of God, the truth cannot be repressed forever, so it haunts him in the form of a ghost “crying out for justice.” Ghost stories are a symbolic incarnation of the conscience. This is why they are so important to a culture like ours that has embraced moral relativism. The scariness of the haunting should be scary because of the seriousness of man’s repression of sin. And Gothika itself even refers to the nature of repression that abused people suffer as a means of survival. This movie reminds me of a few better ones with the same theme, A Stir of Echoes, The Others, and The Sixth Sense, all dealing with the same need for unpunished crime to be reckoned with. Unfortunately, the glaring weakness of this story is that the heroine really did kill her husband because she was possessed by the spirit of the dead girl who was killed by that same man. So the murder is justice for the ghost. But I have a real moral problem with such vigilanteism. It places the hero in an immoral bad light. She really is guilty of a crime and no matter how evil her husband was, it does not justify her murdering him. (For more detail, read my article on vigilanteism in the movies: Vigilanteism in the Movies.

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