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Overall Rating
2.85

Awesome: 11.11%
Worth A Look: 19.75%
Just Average: 23.46%
Pretty Crappy34.57%
Sucks: 11.11%

7 reviews, 39 user ratings



Skeleton Key, The
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by brianorndorf

"Slow build, but a great payoff"
4 stars

Not always the peppiest or scariest creation to shoot down the pipe, “The Skeleton Key” holds attention with thick mood and a finale that didn’t seem possible anymore in the current cinematic “please everyone” world we live in. An entertaining film with flashes of competency, “Key” unlocks a good time, but little else.

Caroline (Kate Hudson) is a nursing student looking to clear her head and change focus. Taking a hospice job in the swamps of Louisiana caring for a stroke victim (John Hurt) and his overprotective wife (Gena Rowlands), Caroline finds that the cavernous mansion she now calls home is filled with secrets. Snooping in the attic, Caroline stumbles upon “hoodoo” artifacts, which lead her to investigate the malevolent black magic, much to the dismay of the family lawyer (Peter Sarsgaard). Unable to quit poking around, the deeper Caroline goes into the mystery of the house and the residents, the more she finds evil waiting for her at every turn.

Much like July’s “Dark Water,” “The Skeleton Key” isn’t too concerned with easy scares. Reliant on tension, sweaty mood, and characterization, “Key” plays studio ball, but slightly subverts the stone-dead PG-13 horror genre with a sharp eye toward bayou theatrics, and manages to find a terrific ending that makes all the troubles getting to that point seem worth the hassle.

Director Iain Softley, recently paroled from filmmaking jail after the inexcusable “K-Pax,” brings to “Key” a dedication to the “Twilight Zone” flavors of the screenplay, and a genuine love for the locales. “Key” doesn’t quite reach the fever pitch of other voodoo barnstormers like “Angel Heart” or Wes Craven’s “The Serpent and the Rainbow,” but given the mild challenges set forth by screenwriter Ehren Kruger (“The Ring”), the film manages to remain entirely entertaining, no matter the often slack pace or cornball performances. Softley commits the tale 100%, and his slick widescreen visuals help enrich the devious nature of the story, and go a long way to hiding the inabilities of the lead actors. It’s a familiar trip into candles and chicken bones, but Softley has a steady trigger finger on the suspense button, building the film slowly before letting it rip in the final 30 minutes.

Since “Key” doesn’t require acting hysteria, the film attempts to carefully balance performances all around, not always successfully. Kate Hudson earns her genre stripes with her performance, achieving a weird mix of sensuality and skepticism as Caroline’s nightmare becomes progressively worse. Often simply a tool for Softley’s rambunctious camerawork, Hudson does manage some good scenes of anxiety, and gives the finale her all. Less can be said of Gena Rowlands, who looks overwhelmed by the physicality of her role, and Peter Sarsgaard, who fumbles with the worst New Orleans accent heard on screen since “Hard Target.”

While “Key” stars off puttering around, gradually thickening the suspense, but never indulging too much in cheap scares or nonsense, the final act of the film is where the beauty of the production is found. While far from mind-blowing, Kruger, Softley and Universal Pictures have committed to an ending that I didn’t think could exist anymore in today’s marketplace. Bravo.

“Skeleton Key” might not be the most riveting sit or the most frightening experience, but in a rare moment for the genre, it does get better as it rolls along, and that’s good enough for me.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12711&reviewer=404
originally posted: 08/11/05 23:52:27
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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
9/05/09 Black Leather Rain Highly rated. This movie plays like a Call of Cthulhu adventure from beginning to end. 5 stars
1/07/09 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
9/21/07 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
1/11/07 David Pollastrini Kate Hudson is hot! 3 stars
9/29/06 Stanley Thai Nto only a good movie but possibly the best surprise ending I've ever seen. 3 stars
6/19/06 BoyInTheDesignerBubble this movie has more holes that the Albert Hall in London. 3 stars
5/07/06 Diane Perkins very good, unpredictable ending, really liked it, Gena Rowlands awesome as usual 5 stars
5/02/06 Ashley Hinz Closing credits are the best thing about this. I saw this house from the road 6 years ago. 4 stars
1/17/06 malcolm nothing especially good or bad. 4 stars
1/09/06 Indrid Cold Perfectly average hollywood horror. Kate is nice to look at though. 3 stars
12/10/05 JeromeBosch Lowtax; such verve and passion. Hope that you never GET AIDS. 2 stars
12/09/05 The Grinch Meh. Liked the somewhat obvious ending. Pretty mediocre though, Hudson is vapid. 3 stars
12/02/05 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
11/16/05 Kyle Stylish, intelligent, and spooky. 5 stars
10/23/05 Lowtax I fucked Jesus in the ass. He loved it. The filthy sodomite will burn in hell with me 4 stars
10/22/05 Shalom Cadaverim Good point, LTIH -- at last a paradigm for salvation for all in Judeo-Christian tradition. 5 stars
10/20/05 Ariadne Christina Renee Gladstone Best movie of 2005 so far. Very suspenseful morality tale. 5 stars
10/20/05 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
10/08/05 Anus I'm only giving 4 stars for the nice ending - bad guys win! 4 stars
9/19/05 ALBERT very good and scary 4 stars
9/08/05 Neet I thought the plot was creative and loved the ending 5 stars
8/31/05 M Suprise ending??? pppffffttt please! bored me to death 2 stars
8/31/05 Jin another flop for Hudson. 1 stars
8/24/05 Roy Not Worth the trip to the theater. stay home and clean 2 stars
8/21/05 Naka Naaah. 2 stars
8/16/05 ES This movie surprised me= stick through the slow parts and get a great story 4 stars
8/15/05 bobbi good story, bad developement,scenes disjointed, good acting 3 stars
8/14/05 .:*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
8/12/05 Hockeytown The poor kids...tee hee hee ; ) 4 stars
8/12/05 Dani Stylish, creepy, and a great ending. 5 stars
8/12/05 Fox A good film 4 stars
8/12/05 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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