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A Review of "Gothic"


“Conjure up your deepest, darkest fear…now call that fear to life.” There is only one word I can use to describe this film: insane. Knowing what I know about director Ken Russell, he had probably drank his way through an entire vineyard’s worth of wine by the time production had wrapped, but maybe that is what helped give Gothic its very frenzied and chilling feel. In 87 sweeping minutes, we see the story unfold of the night Mary Shelley wrote her masterpiece Frankenstein, also known then by the title of The Modern Prometheus. At the invitation of Lord Byron (Gabriel Byrne), Shelley (Natasha Richardson) along with her husband Percy (Julian Sands) go on an all-night laudanum bender in the middle of a fierce thunderstorm, all while participating in horror story-telling and some strange rituals with a human skull akin to seances, in an attempt to stir up their darkest fears which they will put to paper in stories of their own, as part of a contest. The combination of drugs, alcohol, and the bizarre nature of Byron create a film that is almost psychedelic in nature, with very erotic undertones. From start to finish, it is relentless in moving from one story and crazy, frightening image to another. I guarantee that you will be lost several times, in a state of delirium, but unlike other movies I have reviewed, it actually seems to work in the director’s favor here, and contributes to the uneasiness of the project. While based on the true story of how Frankenstein was conceived (well, according to accepted legend, anyway), I find it hard to believe this is exactly how it all went down, but Russell certainly puts his spin on it and made it entertaining (although sometimes it can be too much for its own good). When I finished watching this, I did not think much of it. I liked it, but I really did not know what to say. As the days went on, and I thought more about it, I came to develop an appreciation for this film, which has generally been panned by critics. There are not many movies out there that have caused such reflection in me, so that says a lot. Horror nerds and lit geeks will find common ground, and definitely get some enjoyment out of it. Also featuring Timothy Spall, Myriam Cyr, and Dexter Fletcher. Final Verdict: Worth a Watch.

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My review is a bit more concise: A pointless, tedious night spent with wealthy artists who over-react with manic intensity to every shadow and noise.

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