Skeleton Key review
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[The Skeleton Key]
Plot:A live-in nurse is hired to care for an elderly woman's ailing husband in their home...a foreboding and decrepit mansion in the Louisiana delta.Intrigued by the enigmatic couple, their mysterious and secretive ways,Caroline beings to explore the old mansion. Armed with a skeleton key that unlocks every door, she discovers a hidden attic room that holds a deadly and terrifying secret.
Fahnlohnee R. Harris.
My Thoughts:Fun and strikingly real at times
Review:Going into movies like this that deal with voodoo and other dark religions or practices you really don't know what to expect.There aren't many horror films which use the voodoo practice as a plot device.Then this summer comes "The Skeleton Key",which stars Kate Hudson as a hospice nurse who answers an ad to take care of an old womans ailing husband only to stumble upon a dark mystery and eventually winds up having her own beliefs challenged.
First off lets get rid of the word voodoo. In this film they name the practice hoodoo which is supposedly the darkest side of the voodoo practice.Kate Hudson does a great job of carrying this film which shocked me because shes coming off a long string of drama and romance/coms.To hop right into a horror film and carry it the way she did shows true talent.Her characters issue is the disgust at the way the healthcare system treats the elderly,sick,and dying.When one of her patients dies and his corpse is hurried out of the hospital that becomes the last straw leading her to answer an ad for a woman Violet Devereaux (Gena Rowlands) looking for someone to care after her ailing bed-ridden husband Ben Devereaux (John Hurt). She also has a personal reason for doing this in that she feels guilty about abandoning her father who was in a similar position before he passed on.This plot point explains why when things start getting freaky weird around the Devereaux place,she still sticks around.Peter Saarsgard makes a few appearances here and there as the old couples estate lawyer...or so it seems. We don't see much of him in the movie until the scenes leading up the films climax where his character plays a key role.
What I liked about most about this movie is how it switches gears and keeps things moving on two different levels.The locals in the area where Caroline works are oddballs but they all know something isn't right in the Devereaux house.The settings are great with the gothic mansion surrounded by backwoods plant life but the rainstorm scenes are what really do a nice job of bringing out and utilizing the setting fully.Caroline soon figures somethings not quite right once she explores the attic and starts having strange nightmares afterwards coupled with Bens worsening condition and his odd outbursts around mirrors.So what we have here are two different plot points being played out which come together nicely as the film continues along.The mirrors play a key role in the films early parts as Violet clashes with Caroline about bringing mirrors into the house.Why? I can't tell you that without spoiling the ending but rest assured theres a very good explanation for this later on in the film.Ehren Krueger did a great job with the script for this film which could've lost itself easily but manages to stay afloat despite a contrived and difficult to follow plot.The whole hoodoo thing becomes clearer as Caroline starts asking questions of the locals when she fears Violet may have been responsible for her husbands condition.We learn a few things...one,brick dust can act as a barrier keeping the bad spirits or bad people out of a persons space, and two none of this hoodoo mumbo jumbo can work if the victim of it doesn't believe. All of these things play key roles in the story as the film starts to unfold near the end and Carolines "enemies" are revealed.It's nice to see a film where the dialogue doesn't just fill up running time but actually serves a purpose in finishing out the movie.On the flip side,this film could irk some moviegoers because by revealing one of Carolines enemies too early it shows it's hand.The climax is where "Skeleton Key" really shines and where the eeriest of scenes take place along with some big twists.The climax is a shocker and depending on who you are and how you like your horror movies to end, you'll either love it or hate it or a mix of the two.
Pros:Great old south settings,good performances and an excellent one by Kate Hudson who will have you buying those scenes where shes running around scared for her life.Nice twist ending and a nice realistic utilization of voodoo or hoodoo as a plot device.Theres also an in joke made at the end regarding race and how it affects the decisions of characters in films like this.Not an offensive gag but one we've all heard before.
Cons:As I stated in the review one antagonist is revealed a bit too early.I can't list the other con without giving away too much of the film so I will disgress.
Overall:Not a great movie if you're looking to be scared out of your gourd but if you're looking for fun,a few good scares,some interesting things about voodoo,and an overall eerie supernatural horror/thriller all wrapped up in a great female lead performance by Kate Hudson then "The Skeleton Key" is right up your alley.
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