As a loony-bin shrink, Halle Berry gives her best performance since winning an Oscar for Monster's Ball (consider the alternatives, folks). She wakes up as a patient in her own institution, unable to recall the events that led to her imprisonment. The more she remembers, the crazier she appears to her doctor/admirer (Robert Downey Jr.). Alternating at its convenience between psychological and supernatural thriller, Gothika works better before we know where it's leading, feeding us tasty, teasing crumbs before stuffing an unsatisfying finale down our throats.
EXTRAS Berry gets Punk'd at the premiere, and French director Mathieu Kassovitz boasts in the commentary about making his audience laugh. Perhaps he misinterpreted the chuckles when Berry evades security by hiding underwater in a swimming pool, or after lines like: ''I don't believe in ghosts.'' ''Neither do I, but they believe in me.''