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Overall Rating
2.85

Awesome: 11.11%
Worth A Look: 19.75%
Average: 23.46%
Pretty Bad34.57%
Total Crap: 11.11%

7 reviews, 39 user ratings



Skeleton Key, The
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by Peter Sobczynski

"The only scary moment? 'Screenplay by Ehren Krueger"
1 stars

There are any number of ancient and evil curses on display in the new supernatural thriller “The Skeleton Key” but none are as terrifying and all-powerful as the Curse of Ehren Krueger. For those of you who have seen more than your share of lousy movies in recent months, Krueger has become the go-to guy for crappy screenplays (his credits include the American “Ring” films, “Scream 3,” “Arlington Road” and the upcoming “The Brothers Grimm,” not to mention a rumored doctoring of “Mindhunters”) that are chock-full of implausible characters, incoherent plotting and twist endings that somehow manage to come off as both completely inexplicable and utterly predictable. However, his efforts have never yielded as few end results as they do here–a strong cast and a couple of decent ideas are wasted on a screenplay that wouldn’t have even been able to pass muster on one of those shoddy latter-day attempts to revive “The Twilight Zone.”

Kate Hudson stars as Caroline, a hospice worker who is hired by a friendly lawyer (Peter Sarsgaard) to work as a caretaker for the recently stroke-paralyzed Ben Devereaux (John Hurt). Ben’s wife, Violet (Gena Rowlands) doesn’t want her around–Caroline isn’t from the South and wouldn’t understand their beliefs and customs–but eventually allows her to stay, provided that she follows certain rules. She can’t have any mirrors hanging on the walls and she shouldn’t be rattling around up in the attic–especially around that mysterious door that seems to have never been opened. Of course, Caroline begins to snoop around and discovers that there may be more to Ben’s condition than meets the eye. In fact, she begins to suspect that there may be mysterious forces at work. After doing some research, she learns that the house was once owned by a rich banking family who lynched a pair of servants for allegedly attempting to perform some ritual involving their children. Of course, those servants were powerful hoodoo masters and it seems as if they may be using Ben to take revenge from beyond the grave.<

It may sound fabulously complex from the previous paragraph but that is simply a testament to my brilliant ability to sum up even the dullest of plots in a manner that makes them sound at least vaguely compelling. The screenplay is a one-note collection of bits cribbed from other, better films without any sort of fresh approach to the material. Instead of a matter-of-fact look at a contemporary character trying to come to terms with the mysterious world of voodoo, we get silly scenes in which our heroine goes from being a total skeptic to whipping up powerful spells in a manner of days. Instead of using the set-up in a clever or inspired way, it throws it out the window in the final reels for a series of scenes in which characters throw each other off of stairways, chase each other with shotguns and undergo the kind of horrified realizations about the true motives of certain characters that even the dimmest bulbs in the audience probably picked up on about 35 minutes earlier.<

As the film drags along, it soon becomes obvious that absolutely nothing is working. The usually excellent actors go through their motions with the kind of embarrassed air that suggests that they know they are in a dog and are trying to finish it up as quickly and painlessly as possible. The scares are pedestrian and mostly traffic in “BOO!” moments where someone moves unexpectedly or pops out from the shadows. Director Iain Softley, whose “K-PAX” was far more terrifying than anything on display here, tries to conjure up an appropriate atmosphere of Souther Gothic dread but while he drapes every scene with shadows and vegetation and trinkets, none of it feels particularly authentic–this is the cinematic equivalent of a House of Blues restaurant located in Frostbite Falls, Minnesota. And the ending . . . dear God, the ending. Like most of Krueger’s previous efforts, it involves a gigantic twist that is meant to shake viewers out of their seats. The problem is, like with most of Kruger’s twist endings, is that a good portion of the shocking reveal is anything but shocking to anyone who has even vaguely been paying attention. As for the rest, it is merely inexplicable and raises more questions than it has the time or energy to answer and leaves us with nothing more than the suggestion that the lynching that was seen earlier may have actually been completely justified.

Viewers with long memories may recall Alan Parker’s “Angel Heart,” a nifty voodoo-based thriller in which innocent people found themselves caught in the middle of other people’s dealings with the dark side. That was a great movie that was marred only by a dreadful final reel that just simply didn’t work on any level. If you want to see a good voodoo movie this weekend, you should seek that one out. However, if you have the inexplicable desire to find out what the last reel of “Angel Heart” would be like stretched out to 104 minutes, then by all means go and see “The Skeleton Key.”

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=12711&reviewer=389
originally posted: 08/12/05 14:37:19
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User Comments

2/13/17 morris campbell good twist at the end otherwise nothing special 2 stars
6/08/12 elrondhubbard this was actually good. you morons that didnt like it probably own all harry potter 5 stars
9/06/09 Black Leather Rain Highly rated. This movie plays like a Call of Cthulhu adventure from beginning to end. 5 stars
1/08/09 Shaun Wallner Fell asleep to this one. 2 stars
6/26/08 Roz Predictable ending. Don't know why Hudson's character was so nosy in the first place! 2 stars
9/22/07 sinethemba great twist. it will keep you awake for days to come 4 stars
2/16/07 Vip Ebriega I don't get it. 3 stars
1/12/07 David Pollastrini Kate Hudson is hot! 3 stars
9/30/06 Stanley Thai Nto only a good movie but possibly the best surprise ending I've ever seen. 3 stars
6/20/06 BoyInTheDesignerBubble this movie has more holes that the Albert Hall in London. 3 stars
5/08/06 Diane Perkins very good, unpredictable ending, really liked it, Gena Rowlands awesome as usual 5 stars
5/03/06 Ashley Hinz Closing credits are the best thing about this. I saw this house from the road 6 years ago. 4 stars
1/18/06 malcolm nothing especially good or bad. 4 stars
1/10/06 Indrid Cold Perfectly average hollywood horror. Kate is nice to look at though. 3 stars
12/11/05 JeromeBosch Lowtax; such verve and passion. Hope that you never GET AIDS. 2 stars
12/10/05 The Grinch Meh. Liked the somewhat obvious ending. Pretty mediocre though, Hudson is vapid. 3 stars
12/03/05 Jennifer S. A pretty good thriller. Nice twists and turns along the way. 4 stars
11/20/05 Monday Morning What unscary shite. 2 stars
11/17/05 Kyle Stylish, intelligent, and spooky. 5 stars
10/24/05 Lowtax I fucked Jesus in the ass. He loved it. The filthy sodomite will burn in hell with me 4 stars
10/23/05 Shalom Cadaverim Good point, LTIH -- at last a paradigm for salvation for all in Judeo-Christian tradition. 5 stars
10/21/05 Ariadne Christina Renee Gladstone Best movie of 2005 so far. Very suspenseful morality tale. 5 stars
10/21/05 Last Tango Imp Heiress Modern Christian Morality Tale. Caroline reeps ultimate consequence of being unsaved. 5 stars
10/10/05 Michael Klapwyk It was total crap 1 stars
10/09/05 Anus I'm only giving 4 stars for the nice ending - bad guys win! 4 stars
9/20/05 ALBERT very good and scary 4 stars
9/09/05 Neet I thought the plot was creative and loved the ending 5 stars
9/01/05 M Suprise ending??? pppffffttt please! bored me to death 2 stars
9/01/05 Jin another flop for Hudson. 1 stars
8/24/05 Roy Not Worth the trip to the theater. stay home and clean 2 stars
8/22/05 Naka Naaah. 2 stars
8/16/05 ES This movie surprised me= stick through the slow parts and get a great story 4 stars
8/16/05 bobbi good story, bad developement,scenes disjointed, good acting 3 stars
8/15/05 .:*paris*:. another 1 of those forgotton movies liike boogyman and dark water what a waste 2 stars
8/14/05 Tim McL. Horrible, boring and stupid 1 stars
8/13/05 Hockeytown The poor kids...tee hee hee ; ) 4 stars
8/13/05 Dani Stylish, creepy, and a great ending. 5 stars
8/13/05 Fox A good film 4 stars
8/13/05 Ray You could see it coming by the trailer 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  12-Aug-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 15-Nov-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  18-Aug-2005


Directed by
  Iain Softley

Written by
  Ehren Kruger

Cast
  Kate Hudson
  Gena Rowlands
  Peter Sarsgaard
  John Hurt
  Joy Bryant
  Maxine Barnett



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