The Skeleton Key – a subjective review

Who’s in it : Forrest Landis, Joy Bryant, Peter Sarsgaard, John Hurt, Kate Hudson, Gena Rowlands
Who wrote it: Ehren Kruge
Where does it belong: Horror, thriller, supernatural
Who directed it: Iain Softley
How long: 104 minutes
Since I hadn’t seen a movie in ages, I readily agreed when friends suggested that we try and catch a movie. I really hoped that I would be able to see Bewitched but then there were only two tickets available for that and we were a loud group of four girls. [I still can only call them girls because that’s how we behaved!] So, The Skeleton Key it was.

This movie has a Ring connection: Screenwriter Ehren Kruger also wrote The Ring and Scream 3. But it is nowhere near what Dark Water was and thank heavens for that! The horror quotient is not at the same level as The Ring. In the first half, there was hardly nothing to be scared of. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The story first: A disconteded nurse Caroline (Kate Hudson) kicks her job in the city and heads for New Orleans in her red Beetlish car in search of another job as a caregiver following an ad in the papers. We see her enter the sprawling estate of Voilet (Gena Rowlands) whose lawyer Luke (Peter Sarsgaard) had put the ad in the papers. The job: day and night residential care of Ben (John Hurt). At first, Voilet is apprenhensive but she lets Caroline in anyway.

Caroline is given a Skeleton key, which opens every door in the house. After a brief history of the mansion by Voilet Caroline discovers many things –

(1) The Skeleton key does not open all doors: One door in the attic doesn’t open with the skeleton key.
(2) The entire house is without mirrors.
(3) Brick dust can help stop an enemy from entering a room or house.
(4) That Ben needs help but not of the medical kind.
(5) That Hoodoo, a kind of Voodoo was and is practised in the house.

(6) The Black servants of the then owners of the estate were lynched by their masters for practising Hoodoo.
(7) That Luke and Voilet are in cahoots with each other.

Caroline starts out as a sceptic who wants to help a patient who is a believer and ends up being a believer herself. The ending is quite predictable. (I suppose being an Indian has something to do with it.) But the movie does have its moments:

(1) The black and white flashbacks were memorable.
(2) The suspense was kept right upto the end.
(3) The atmosphere of decadent Southern aristocracy was brought out well.

The dependence on Hoodoo/Voodoo cult did NOT make the movie scary! What scared me were the bits were Caroline was caught/almost caught sneaking into the attic. Most of the time, it was the sound I was reacting to not the content on the screen.

As far as the acting goes Kate Hudson will not win the Oscar for this but she was quite believable as the tortured victim. The remarkable bit was the turnaround at the end. John Hurt was very appropriate as the hurt and aging character. The cinematogaphy was like any other Hollywood movie. The only interesting camera angle was already done before but having said that I would like to say that the editing was a good job. I did not find any sagging bits. I would not place this movie amongst the greatest movies I have seen but yes it was good fun. Watch it on a rainy Saturday afternoon if you don’t have anything better to do and are stranded without a book.

Rating: : * * = Timepass(Okay)

My Rating System:

* * * * * = Khallas (Deadly)
* * * * = Bindaas (Great)
* * * = Jhakaas (Good)
* * = Timepass(Okay)
* = Bakwaas (Avoid it)


6 thoughts on “The Skeleton Key – a subjective review

  1. I think you have given away the story (not that the movie had a great story line to it).

    But I agree with you on two counts:

    The movie depended heavily on the sound effects, considering that the plot was weak.

    Second, yup the hoodoo/voodoo cult will not surprise the desi crowd! Afterall when it comes to swapping souls and exchanging bodies, we take the cake.

    Excellent review on the whole. I could learn a couple of things from you.

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