The Skeleton Key
- Ian Softley
- Reviewed by
- José Ruiloba a.k.a. Morris
- Review date
- Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Caroline (Kate Hudson) works as a nurse in New Orleans when she’s hired by an old lady, Violet Deveraux (Gena Rowlands), to take care of her ill husband, Ben (John Hurt). The contact is made through Luke (Peter Sarsgaard), who works for Violet and quickly becomes friends with Caroline. But strange things start to happen in that house regarding Ben, and Caroline starts to wonder if there’s more to that place than meets the eye.
The Skeleton Key was written by Ehren Kruger, no stranger to the genre, and directed by Ian Softley, who tried his hand with this kind of movie for the first time. Given the results, I say he did a great job. They both did. Their movie is mostly unpredictable, and even though it isn’t precisely violent, it can become really scary; even more so in a psychological kind of way, as the movie keeps building and building right until the end.
And it is the ending that elevates this movie from just good to great. There’s a plot twist, and it is quite clever. Usually in horror movies we’re disappointed by the time everything is revealed. Not here. The ending comes as a complete shocker and leaves a rather disturbing aftertaste. I couldn’t stop thinking about the movie for days, and it was a completely different experience the second time around.
There are some pratfalls which Softley doesn’t escape, such as clichéd boo moments which we can sense from a mile or a specific scene in which a door appears to be moving because of something behind that doesn’t make any sense. Still, the whole treatment into the world of Hoodoo and Voodoo is both interesting and intensely creepy. The settings and atmosphere help a lot creating such a mood, and the mystery is always entertaining.
Kate Hudson is very good as the woman trying to find some peace but stumbling onto quite the opposite. Gena Rowlands is spooky, such a good actress. I was scared to death from the get-go. John Hurt is excellent in a role that requires him to transmit only through his body. And Peter Sarsgaard is not enough in the movie, but he’s a welcomed presence.
“I don’t believe!”
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