Robert Downey Jr. and Penelope Cruz play second fiddle to Halle Berry in this dark and (unsurprisingly) gothic film. Berry plays Miranda Grey, a psychiatrist at a mental asylum who is unfortunate enough to be in a car crash during a stormy night. She wakes up days later to find she has been admitted to the very institute in which she worked.
Grey has been accused of a terrible crime and as she tries to find a rational explanation for her actions and the events around her, all kinds of supernatural shenanigans begin to take place. Heavily influenced by Japanese horror films like Ringu (recently remade in Hollywood as The Ring), this film is genuinely intense, scary and occasionally disturbing. It is not only tense, but it also manages to make the viewer uncomfortable without resorting to a hack and slash gore-fest.
It doesn't quite have the edge of a Japanese thriller, nor does it dare to be as dark, but it works for the most part and is certainly more accessible to Western audiences. Although the influences on this film are clear, Gothika deserves credit for trying to be different from the usual Hollywood horror films and the finished result is definitely worth checking out.