The Skeleton Key (2005)

PG-13   |    |  Drama, Horror, Mystery


The Skeleton Key (2005) Poster

A hospice nurse working at a spooky New Orleans plantation home finds herself entangled in a mystery involving the house's dark past.


6.5/10
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  • Kate Hudson at an event for The Skeleton Key (2005)
  • Kate Hudson in The Skeleton Key (2005)
  • Kate Hudson and Oliver Hudson at an event for The Skeleton Key (2005)
  • Kate Hudson in The Skeleton Key (2005)
  • Gena Rowlands and Kate Hudson in The Skeleton Key (2005)
  • Kate Hudson at an event for The Skeleton Key (2005)

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Director:

Iain Softley

Writer:

Ehren Kruger

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6 October 2011 | Spikeopath
7
| The Conjure of Sacrifice.
The Skeleton Key is directed by Iain Softley and written by Ehren Kruger. It stars Kate Hudson, Gena Rowlands, Peter Sarsgard, John Hurt and Joy Bryant. Music is by Ed Shearmur and cinematography by Dan Mindel. Plot finds Hudson as hospice nurse Caroline Ellis, who gains employment at an isolated plantation house in Southern Louisiana. She's to care for severe stroke victim Benjamin Deveraux (Hurt). Even though she's met with initial hostility from Benjamin's wife Violet (Rowlands), she soon settles in and the pair learn to live together comfortably as long as some of Violet's rules are adhered too. But this house has a dark past and just what is the secret hiding in the attic room where Benjamin had his stroke?

It's the perfect setting, a bayou house in the Deep South, lived in by a shifty old dear, and of course the mysterious room that will reveal hoodoo shenanigans and ancient curses. For the most part it's very standard stuff, not overtly jumpy or ever bloody, director Softley keeps the pace on the simmer whilst preferring moody atmosphere over terror. This works on a first time viewing because the pay off is monstrous and original, to be applauded in fact for putting freshness into an often stagnated sub-genre of horror. However, as I have just found out, a repeat viewing shows it to very much be a one trick pony. A great trick, mind, but once known it leaves the rest of the film looking decidedly naked. The performances are good enough from Rowlands and Hudson, though tempered some what by the fact that Hurt is wasted and Sarsgard seems out of place in the setting. While there's some good location photography from Mindel that comes at the Felicity Plantation, Saint James Parish, Louisiana.

Recommended to first time viewers who like mood over the macabre, mystery over mania and build up over blood. For those thinking of giving it a second go? Don't, do just what Kate Hudson's character should have done, and leave well alone. 6.5/10

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