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Overall Rating

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

7 reviews, 39 user ratings

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Skeleton Key, The
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by Brian McKay

"well, at least it's not another crappy Kate Hudson romantic comedy"
3 stars

switching gears from the slew of critically abhorred romantic comedies she's appeared in since her star-making turn in ALMOST FAMOUS, Kate Hudson tries her hand at the horror scene in THE SKELETON KEY. But while the film is brimming with lush southern Gothic ambiance and competent performances, it fails to be truly gripping or scary or even jolt-inducing on any level.

Hudson plays Caroline Ellis, a nurse working in a Louisiana old folks home who has grown increasingly embittered over the way that her patients are merely being warehoused so that they can die. When her latest patient passes away, and his family refuses to even come by and pick up his belongings, she decides to quit the home and take a job as an assisted living nurse for an old couple who live in a run-down antebellum mansion.

The couple are Violet (played excellently by Gena Rowlands) and Ben (John Hurt, earning his easiest paycheck ever as a wheelchair-bound mute). Since Ben is unable to speak or walk after a recent stroke, Violet needs someone to help her take care of him. But from the moment that Caroline arrives to interview for the job, we see plenty of clues that indicate that something just ain't right - like the fact that all the mirrors have been taken down from the walls, or that the previous nurses that were hired all left within a week. Undaunted by such things, Caroline wants the job anyway. Although Violet doesn't care for her much at first, she hires Caroline after a little nudging from her estate lawyer, Luke (Peter Sarsgaard), a dashing young southern gentleman who naturally forms an instant rapport with the attractive Caroline.

Upon moving in, Caroline recieves a skeleton key from Violet which is supposed to open every door in the house. While Caroline's days are spent feeding and bathing Ben, Violet putters around in the garden and says things like "Child, will you do me a blessing and fetch me a glass of Sweet Tea?". But when Caroline goes to the attic to fetch something for Violet, she discovers a mysteriously locked door that the key won't open. So, like any snooping white girl in a haunted house would do, she breaks into the room and is surprised to find a bunch of creepy-looking voodoo shit inside. Further snooping reveals that the house was once cared for by a pair of Black servants named Papa Justify (Ronald McCall) and Mama Cecile (Jeryl Prescott), who were devout practitioners of Voodoo. Now, their ghosts appear to be haunting the creepy old house - or are they?

From a storytelling standpoint, THE SKELETON KEY unfolds in a fairly straightforward paint-by-numbers manner. Caroline uncovers more clues, despite resistance from the increasingly hostile and suspect Violet, and there are twists upon twists - most of which are rather predictable, but one or two of which will pleasantly blindside the average viewer. But sadly, this thriller never thrills, and its lush atmosphere is a thin smokescreen to hide the fact that its formulaic underpinnings prevent it from approaching anything that is truly scary or unsettling.

Although it could be a bit of fun to watch on a rainy night, THE SKELETON KEY is nothing for horror fans to get excited about. More than anything, it seems like a vehicle for Hudson to break away from the Rom-Com scene and broaden her horizons, but in that respect it's a rather limited form of success to step up from awfulness to mediocrity.

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originally posted: 08/21/05 07:24:29
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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
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  12-Aug-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 15-Nov-2005



Directed by
  Iain Softley

Written by
  Ehren Kruger

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

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