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RELEASED: 2005, Cert. 15
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 105 mins
DIRECTOR: Iain Softley
PRODUCERS: Daniel Bobker, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher & Iain Softley
SCREENPLAY: Ehren Kruger
MUSIC: Ed Shearmur
Kate Hudson as Caroline Ellis
Gena Rowlands as Violet
John Hurt as Ben
Peter Sarsgaard as Luke
Joy Bryant as Jill
FILM ONLY REVIEW
Due to feeling unfulfilled in her job as a carer at a hospice, Caroline Ellis accepts a post at dilapidated old mansion in the Deep South, just outside of New Orleans, where she is to care for Ben, an elderly stroke victim.
Ben's rather odd wife Violet, issues Caroline with a skeleton key which she says will open the doors to any of the rooms in the massive house, but on exploring her new surroundings, Caroline discovers that there is one room she can't get into using the key....the attic.
Violet merely tolerates Caroline's company, resenting her presence yet simultaneously realising that she does need help with looking after Ben.
Almost immediately on joining the spooky household, Caroline strongly gets the impression that Ben - who is unable to speak due to his condition - is trying to tell her, or perhaps even warn her of something.
Determined to find out what is in the attic and why Violet's responses are hostile when asked as to what the locked room holds, Caroline relies on her wits and manages to open the door. Inside, she discovers what she believes is evidence of black magic practices, feeling that Ben may actually be a victim of such rather than having suffered a stroke.
Can she help Ben before it's too late?
The first thing which attracted me towards watching this film, was the title. From that, I was expecting something spooky, perhaps in the area of haunted houses, ghostly wanderings down dark passages and things that go bump in the night.....therefore, I was surprised to note that this is an American film, set in the Deep South, rather than some creepy, ugly old mansion nestling in the heart of the British countryside.
The first half or so of The Skeleton Key is quite exciting, with a dark and tense atmosphere being created as Caroline takes on the care and attention of Ben under the watchful eye of his creepy wife, Violet. I was frustrated though by the lack of light, with most of the indoor scenes being shot in almost total darkness - a syndrome in a lot of modern films that I'm becoming increasingly annoyed with, and whether such was intended to enhance the atmosphere or was simply down to poor filming techniques, it nonetheless was very distracting for me, as I feel this is something where the viewer needs to properly be able to see every detail of what is going on.
The acting is surprisingly good, although I didn't realise that the part of Ben was played by John Hurt until the closing credits rolled. As would be expected from an actor of his calibre, Hurt delivered the goods flawlessly, but at the same time I don't think it would have been a particularly difficult role for him....bearing in mind the richness of his overall acting career. The two female lead characters, Kate Hudson as Caroline Ellis and Gena Rowlands as Violet gave decent performances, and it was mostly their input as far as the characters and storyline are concerned, which kept me stuck into watching the film.
One particularly outstanding (in a good way) thing for me about The Skeleton Key was the music. I was lavishly treated to a healthy mixture of soft guitar, tense orchestral, a little burst of Cajun and some wonderful swampland blues....especially the inclusion of material from one of my all-time hallowed traditional blues artists, Blind Willie Johnson. This music complemented the film tremendously, but overall I can't say that the film in turn did justice to the music.
From about the midway point, the whole show began to stray into the realms of what is more than unlikely, becoming increasingly tedious with each moment. This was a huge letdown, as despite the poor lighting, I was enjoying the general buildup. The meandering into the ridiculous removed any sparkle that the earlier part of the film contained, with the storyline becoming ludicrous rather than keeping me on tenterhooks.
There is a twist at the end, but I didn't like it much because although I understood it, to me it made little sense as there is one particular issue which didn't tie up and hang right with something that happened earlier. It is difficult for me to describe exactly what I'm getting at without dipping my feet in the spoiler pool....suffice to say that the concept of this twist is fine, but it was put across in a rushed way, and badly.
I feel that much of the second half of The Skeleton Key could have been condensed into a few minutes, perhaps replacing the time it uses with a more drawn-out and subtle buildup, as I found myself becoming bored and wishing the end was nigh. There is also a little dangling part where a small section of the storyline, although it was closed down properly, missed out a chunk of information which I feel should have been included and expanded upon.
Overall, I found The Skeleton Key a bit of a disappointment, despite the first half being rather good. I guess it was intended to be scary, but I wasn't unnerved in the slightest at any point. I have seen far better, and far older films which deal with the topic of black magic in a much more polished way. I do feel that as a whole, this film ultimately turned out to be a waste of good acting abilities and a wonderful music score.
Would I watch it again? I very much doubt it! Would I recommend it? Half and half...one part of me does think that the buildup of the film is well worth seeing and to experience the brilliant musical accompaniment, but the other part of me gives a thumbs down for what happens after the midway point.
I am tempted to award The Skeleton Key a mere two stars, mostly due to the ruination of what at base is a good idea for a story, but I shall, perhaps generously, mark it as three, simply because of the good acting, the wonderful music and the atmosphere created during the earlier part of the film.
On a final note....in the highly unlikely event that anybody who is in some way responsible for the creation of modern-day American films is reading this review. Can I issue a heartfelt plea to turn the lights on? It is possible to use lighting creatively in such a way that it gives the impression of darkness, thereby allowing the viewer to see what is actually happening on the screen rather than having to try and guess. It has been done successfully up until recent times, so why can't you take a leaf out of the book of cinematic past times?
At the time of writing, The Skeleton Key can be purchased from Amazon as follows:-
New: from 92p to £13.99
Used: from 1p to £2.25
Collectible: two copies currently available @ £2.50 & £10.00 (both appear to be used)
Some items on Amazon are available for free delivery within the UK, but where this doesn't apply, a £1.26 charge should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
This was another film I caught on TV the other night and another I had been wanting to watch for ages. We saw it advertised at the cinema yonks ago and the trailer really caught mine and my wife's interest so when we saw it in the T.V listings, we decided to make a point to try and watch it together....
Set in the already creepy state of Louisiana, home to the bayou and all kinds of voodoo mischief if we are lead to believe what we are told, the film follows Caroline Ellis, a carer, who comes to the home of Violet Devereaux to help look after her husband Ben who is the victim of a stroke. Recruited by a local lawyer who is in the process of rewriting the family wills, Caroline recieves an initially cold reception but, the longer she works in the house, the more she begins to realise that something very strange is going on and that there are some secrets that Violet would rather keep to herself. Ben seems very disturbed, almost frightened, and, as Caroline investigates, she begins to suspect that Violet has been performing some kind of hoodoo ritual and may well even have put a curse on her husband. Add to this a secret room in the attic full of mysterious dolls and magical paranaphelia and the end result is a half-decent thriller whose only fault is that it's pay-off doesn't really come until the closing scenes. Much like Nicole Kidman's The Others or Bruce Willis' Sixth Sense, this is a film that is all about the surprise ending and the journey that takes you there can sometimes feel a little...uninspiring! In fact, my main bugbear was that this felt too much at times to me like one of those old ITV Mystery, Drama and Suspense T.V movies from the eighties or an extended version of Alfred Hitchcock Presents or even The Twilight Zone! It is reasonably chilling but only when you take the whole film including the end into context. And if you didn't start watching from the beginning, there is very little chance you will understand what is going on.
John Hurt stars as Ben, the stroke-induced husband, and all I can say is that it is a good job he wasn't paid by the line!! The other leads in the film are the easy-on-the-eye Kate Hudson and Gena Rowlands who both do the best they can with a slightly over-convoluted plot that attempts to stretch itself out a little too long! Overall this isn't a bad film but you would only need to watch it once and there are far superior thriller/chillers out there than this that are done bigger and far better! It is never really scary per se despite what the trailer might suggest and in fact this has more in common with something like The Gift than a proper horror thriller. I was not sure what to expect upon watching but I am sure it wasn't this- that said, I wasn't disappointed just a little under-awed.
And that is all I have to say about that...
I watched this when it was on the television a few weeks ago as it caught my eye, me the horror/thriller fan I am! I can't say it's original in that much of the ground has been covered many a time before, but it's worth a watch.
The Skeleton key was released in 2005 and is rated certificate 15, probably because it's deemed 'scary'. It was directly by Iain Softley, who also worked on Hackers (Jolie), so he knows what he's doing when it comes to polishing scenes to grip your attention.
The premise of the film is relatively straight forward. Carline Ellis, played by Kate Hudson, is a 25 year old hospice worker. The link with her dad, who died without her being there for him from an illness, is designed to pull a few heart strings. She sets off for a new job that has a more personal feel that at the care centre she currently works in, and finds an advertisement for an elderly couple needing a care worker.
After an interview accompanied by the couples lawyer, Luke Marshall (played by Peter Sarsgaard), Caroline gets the job, slightly concerned by the woman's distaste towards her and the talk of the previous carers who quit.
Caroline is a given a room in their house; the house in more a mansion, with huge grounds, in the middle of nowhere. She is there to help the wife, Violet Devereaux (played by Gena Rowlands) look after her husband Ben (played by John Hurt).
Violet explains that Ben suffered a stroke whilst in the attic, which, strangely enough, has a door to a 'secret room'. Consequently Ben is unable to move or speak and so John Hurt's role is fairly minimal.
Caroline is given a skeleton key, hence the name of the film, which grants her access to all of the rooms in the house, bar the secret room. After probing Violet she discovers what apparently happened in that room; owner's of the house from way back had two helpers, whom they caught teaching black magic to their children in that room during a party with adults downstairs. Being drunk and taking the offence so seriously, the helpers are hung outside.
Caroline shrugs this it off as she doesn't believe in such nonsense (Hoodoo), neither does she believe that their ghosts can be seen in the mirrors which was the explanation given as to why there are no mirrors in the house.
Without giving too much away, within the 100 minutes of this film we see Caroline befriend Ben and she notices something about him and the situation isn't quite right. With help from her friend Jill, she dips her toes into black magic to try to uncover what's going on in the house.
** May Spoil Slighty... ** Catherine comes to the conclusion that Violet cast a black magic spell on her husband, and turns to the Lawyer nearby to confide in and ask for help. But all is not as it seems, and there's a nice twist towards the end of the film.
As for the acting, I think everyone was fairly well cast. Even Hudson surprised me as she was quite convincing and watchable, given the slightly dubious storyline.
The storyline itself as you can tell isn't anything particularly new. The ending is one that can annoy, but I don't want to say much without giving it away.
The direction and scenes in general are quite good quality. Flashbacks are quick, vivid and effective, and the camera work is clear (unlike other thrillers which try to captivate you by swinging the camera and putting it peoples noses!).
The Skeleton Key managed to keep my attention, but I can't say I was gripped completely by it. That's probably because of the storyline, which I had predicted before the twist occurred anyway.
That said, it was an entertaining film that was fairly enjoyable and easy to watch. It's not one I'll be buying for my DVD collection, but horror/thriller fans may want to give it a look. It's not something I can say I found scary in the slightest, but there are moments of suspense and build up that make it a worthwhile film to watch if you get the chance.
I'm a sucker for a film with a twist. So it would seem are a lot of other people, which is why so many of them get made. They fall, though, into two significant categories; either great films with a twist, or films with a great twist - where both seem to exist, it's inevitably because the preamble's so good. The Skeleton Key is one of those second types of movie, where the pay-off's a good one, the ending a well-crafted shocker, but you get the impression the "twist" was pitched well before any else in the film, the plot and characters built in afterwards around the endgame.
Caroline (Kate Hudson) is a careworker who, disillusioned with the monotony of her city job, arrives at a ramshackle mansion in the Louisiana swamps to help stuck-in-the-past Violet Devereaux look after her husband Ben, who has suffered a massive stroke. Tick - creepy old house, tick - crazy old woman. Oh, and tick - attractive newcomer who runs around petrified in skimpy pajamas. But only briefly.
Needless to say, all is not quite what it seems. Ben (John Hurt, who does a decent job considering he only has two words to say in the film) apparently suffered his stroke up in the attic - behind the only door the eponymous key does not open. When Caroline's curiosity gets the better of her, she finds all manner of Hoodoo equipment and strange things in jars hidden away, and can't help but dig ever deeper into the dark secrets of the house and its inhabitants.
This isn't a bad film, exactly, but it's probably nearer that than a good one. As alluded to earlier, the ending is strong - and needs to be to reward the patience to stay with a horror that's remarkably low on genuine shocks and scares. The story progresses at a slow, occasionally directionless pace, and what jumps there are seem to have been wedged awkwardly in to satisfy the presumed expectations of the audience.
The cast is a talented one, and all do pretty good jobs with the little that's given to them - in John Hurt's case, next to nothing save for the odd "distressed grunt" and "imperilled stare". Hurt's a fine actor, but rarely can he have found himself so under-employed. Hudson is okay as the protagonist initially sceptical of tales of house-hauntings and the like, and is faintly reminiscent of Nicole Kidman's character in The Others, save for the lack of whiny children to look after. She too, though, is hampered by script and plot, and coasts through at half the level of performance she's capable of.
With the whole film focusing on building up to the twist ending, there's just not a lot that really happens in the first hour or so of any real interest. Spooky atmosphere and Southern drawls aplenty, but only the fragments of a serious plot. There's half an hour of good film here, but twice as much distinctly less enjoyable padding - I'm all for horror films that play on psychological scares ahead of dismemberings and monsters, but if this is the angle The Skeleton Key is going for, it misses.
Without the support of a well-plotted storyline, and limited by sketchy characters, the ending - as clever as it is - lacks the punch and potency it really should have. The film closes on what should be a strong note - and would be if you cared about the characters, but it's all too easily to shrug it off. "Ah well ..."
If twists are your thing, this might be of interest. I didn't hate it, I just felt it failed to make an impact. In fact, if twists are your thing, there are plenty of good ones out there to watch before you unlock the so-so secrets of The Skeleton Key.
Oh - and it's worth noting that when the cover claims this film is from the "writer" of The Ring, they mean the American update. Effective as that may have been, he obviously already had a pretty decent script to work with - The Skeleton Key suggests that his ability at producing good, original stories is perhaps limited.
So how come the beautiful daughter of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn is called Kate Hudson? The bigger mystery is why such a young talked up actress is already doing predictable horror movies, which effectively means being shown the backdoor in Hollywood terms as far as her A-List status goes. Although Radio Fives no-all film critic Mark Kermode nicknames her Kate Hatstand, in respect to her rather wooden acting skills on stage, the horror genre the perfect place to exercise her furniture removal skills, she really can do better than this.
The Skeleton Key is by-the-numbers stuff, the presence of the likes of Peter Sarsgaard, Gena Rowlands and 'luvey' John Hurt giving it enough clout so mugs like me tape it, Hurt on board this particularly project to probably pay off his tax bill or something rather than add to his illustrious CV. The older established actors tend to only get offered likewise roles and this one had just enough pork on offer for an old ham like Hurt to eat up the scenery playing the demented old crone with gay abandon, but Hurt pretending he's Richard the Third or something, an appropriate cockney rhyming slang for this type of movie.
Kate Hudson ... Caroline Ellis
Gena Rowlands ... Violet Devereaux
John Hurt ... Ben Devereaux
Peter Sarsgaard ... Luke Marshall
Joy Bryant ... Jill
Maxine Barnett ... Mama Cynthia
Fahnlohnee R. Harris ... Hallie
Marion Zinser ... Bayou Woman
The beautiful, young and shapely Caroline (Kate Hudson) has the cheekbones of a Goddess but wants to work as a caretaker at rest homes for some reason, soon offered a position at the elderly Devereauxs house by handsome employer Luke Marshall (Peter Sarsgaard), her job to care for Ben Devereaux (John Hurt), an elderly man who's mute and immobile, living deep in the steamy Louisiana bayous. The lucky old boy is soon getting a bed bath by his beautiful nurse though, his curt wife Violet (Gena Rowlands), rather surprisingly, only to keen to have her around.
Caroline is soon poking around the creaky old house, she living in, where she discovers a secret attic and evidence of black magic practice, New Orleans a hotbed for such beliefs. There are no mirrors in the house either, and when Caroline brings one in she is chastised by Violet, the mirrors a clue to Ben's catatonic state. But Caroline is sworn to protect Ben and when she discovers an unorthodox method of getting him out of his current state things begin to get weird and her employers are soon closing in on her for their real motives in employing her. It seems her job description doesn't include what's about to happen and its time she got out of that house fast, a place full of dark secrets hidden behind every door the skeleton key opens...
I'm not a huge fan of horror movies (I'm over 12) and still not after this placid affair. The genre is oh so predicable and the fact cell phones and internet connections still don't exist in the genre (he's behind the door with the axe text) the horror film has no integrity anymore. With plenty of thunder and lightning and the rain machine going like a ballyhoo to lift the tension you soon lose interest as the middle bit sags. One plus here is the ending, anything but Hollywood and I suspect the studio took bad advice on leaving that bit in. You certainly walk away from it feeling flat.
Kate Hudson is wasted in this and it's a shock to John Hurt and Gina Rowland's clunking around in B-Movie stuff like this. It's an ok premise for a horror film but feels more like a Stephen King short story than a 90 minute mid budget movie, the same problem John Cusaks room 1406 suffered. At least it wasn't a cheesy lazy remake of the excellent Japanese horror films we are suffering of late, the Ring and The Eye with likewise eye candy actresses cast all that's on offer these days in this tired genre.
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Imdb.com scores it 6.5 out of 10.0 (25,612 votes)
RuN-TiMe 104 minutes
Blockbusters are still doing the 5 cheap films for £5 deal per week's rental.
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I am hugely into creepy/mystery films and was not let down by this.
Written by Ehren Kruger and directed by Iain Softley this film is about Caroline (Kate Hudson) who is working in a nursing home. The opening scenes see her reading to a patient whilst he passes away. In the next scene you see her being told to dump the patient's personal belongings in the skip as no one wants them. She is not impressed by their uncaring attitude and so applys for a job to be a hospice carer for Ben, who is mute and bed ridden. Ben and his wife Violet live in an old plantation out in the swamps.
Violet takes an instant dislike to Caroline, saying she will not understand the house and Caroline finds the old woman very strange and suspicious. Caroline notes there are no mirrors in the house and finds this quite unusual but puts it down to the old woman being eccentric.
Violet, gives Caroline a skeleton key to unlock all the doors in the house. Whilst nosing around Caroline finds a secret room in the attic, a locked room in the attic (where Ben had his stroke). Violet says she has never been in there and that it has always been locked.
She becomes more alarmed when she finds the bed ridden Ben on the roof of the house, seemingly trying to get away. When she runs to his bedroom she finds the worlds 'help me' wrote on his bed sheet.
Later in the story Violet explains about the history of the house. There were two house keepers, who served the original owners of the house. It is rumoured they practiced black magic and were one night found teaching the house owners children and were hanged.
Caroline becomes more and more drawn in to investigating the history and the black magics hidden within, as she believes it may have something to do with Ben's illness - but will it lead to her downfall?
I like the fact that with this film you really don't know where it is going until around halfway through and its keeps you guessing all the way along.
I think Kate Hudson plays her role superbly but the feel that Gena Rowlands (Violet) is the amazing at playing her part. You really have to keep your mind ticking over to try and uncover what this odd old lady is all about and what she seems to be hiding.
I thoroughly enjoyed this film and watch it often.
- Credits -
- Story -
A hospice nurse called Caroline answers an ad in the local paper for a couple and ends up looking after an old man called Ben Deveraux who suffered a stroke recently, at the couples rather creepy old house in the woodlands in New Orleans.
The wife, Violet, seems rather peculiar from the start to Caroline, being quite snippy and enforcing some rules which seem a little harsh but she tolerates it and the longer she stays in the house, the more she notices, such as the fact that her key she's given, that she's been told opens every door in the house, doesn't appear to open one particular door in the attic. She vows to discover whats on the other side of this old door and soon the old houses secrets are laid bare, which puts her in danger. What secrets does the house hold? what will happen to her? you'll have to watch the movie to find out, of course!.
- Thoughts and Opinions -
This movie is quite good I think, although you'll have to be rather open minded towards supernatural, occult type things and such like, to really 'believe' it.
Kate does quite well in this role, becoming gradually more concerned and and consumed by what she discovers, along with the viewer and it does become really quite atmospheric and spooky as little by little we start to realise what has happened and what certain things mean. Its hard to say too much without giving away too much obviously but little by little, the mystery starts to be unravelled.
I would say that this movie is less outright scary and more spooky/sinister really, personally I didn't find it very scary but thats not to say that I think its a bad movie and it didn't have any effect on me and certainly if you watch it at night with the lights off, it is pretty creepy, just it doesn't feature much in the way of blood and gore or very heavy violence as such, which was a relief for me since thats what puts me off, I can't handle horror movies that are too visually graphic in that sense. Instead I suppose I could say that its more similar to movies, in feel, to What Lies Beneath or even The Blair Witch Project. The shocks don't come as often as perhaps they do in The Blair Witch Project but there again in a sense thats perhaps a good thing as when they do, their more likely to take you by surprise!.
I liked the plot of the movie in a way as it was fairly thought out, there was a proper story behind it, which became somewhat more intriguing as the movie continued, it didn't strike me as a rushed and sloppy movie in that aspect, so thats good. If your going to be overly critical then you may find things a little silly, for instance I thought the character of the towns estate lawyer, Luke Marshall, was a bit daft, given what happens towards the end. I would also point out that you do need to pay a fair bit of attention to the ins and outs of the story as it plays out because the movie has quite a twist at the end and it might not be too obvious or clear or otherwise make a great deal of sense if you don't keep track of whats going on, which is perhaps common sense but I did get a bit mixed up at times, so I thought I'd add that (I have to say over the last while, I've been getting steadily worse at concentrating on movies but I don't feel its the movies fault, its me lol its so difficult to concentrate and not keep checking the 'net and everything else at the same time, so, my bad lol).
I think as a creepy supernatural thriller, it does quite well, the story is pretty good and the main performances are fine too, plus at one hour and forty minutes long, its a good length movie too, not dragging on or ending too abruptly. The twist near the end also may well take you by surprise, so all in all its a pretty decent movie.
- Would I Recommend It? -
Yes, I'll recommend this movie as, like I've said already, its got a decent enough story and the acting is fine too. It is pretty creepy at times and does quite well as a supernatural or psychological thriller probably moreso than as a horror movie, though I've seen it classified as both. It perhaps requires a bit of open minded-ness (if such a term exists?) to be able to be properly taken in by what happens but the same can be said for pretty much any and all such movies in this genre and I liked how the story seemed to only be revealed bit by bit, with the twist at the end. It perhaps isn't totally flawless but its pretty decent all the same, so overall yes, I would recommend it.
Thanks for reading my review, I hope you found it useful and thanks for any and all r/r/c's. This review is also posted on Ciao UK under my username which is the same name, IzzyS.
The skeleton key is a Crime/Thriller film about Caroline (Kate Hudson) who is employed to look after an old invalid in a creepy new orleand house. The house is next to the bayou and is surrounded by swamp and trees. The owner of the house is an old lady with strange superstitions. Caroline is given a skeleton key, a key which can open all doors apart from one. One night she hears strange noises from within and wants to investigate further.
I thought the film was really creepy and I got scared at some points. I am quite a hard person to scare so it was quite an acievement for this film. I can sit through 'The Grudge' withought even flinching. It helps if you believe it more and this film is quite easy to believe even though it involves hoodoo, a mysterious African/American magic that only works when you believe in it. By the end of the film more and more secrets are revealed until eventually a really chilling twist is revealed that had me shocked. In this film there is no happy ending which left me thinking. The acting is great and Kate hudson is quite hot which is a bonus. The old lady plays her part really well. The only disadvantage is that it ends on a cliffhanger, leaving you shocked and open mouthed. But I think the ending fits the film really well and if it had been different I don't think it would have been as good.
If you want to find out more about what is behind the door and what is so scary about the film then I highly reccomend this film. Please dont go off and read any spoilers as it will ruin the secret for you and trust me it's a gooden. If you like to be scared or like movies about hoodoo then I think this is the only one so watch it anyway. Overall i would rate this movie an 8/10 as it had me quite scared and was really thrilling. It has a bucketload of suspense throughout the film. Thank you for reading and please rate.
There is a key that will open all doors to a house and is called the skeleton key. It is the key used by the owner to access all the doors in his house, all doors except to a room at the attic. What does that mean?
Kate Hudson - Caroline Ellis
Gena Rowlands - Violet Devereaux
John Hurt - Ben Devereaux
Peter Sarsgaard - Luke Marshall
Joy Bryant - Jill
Maxine Barnett - Mama Cynthia
I'm a huge Kate Hudson fan. I like her a lot. She is my crush! Her role in this movie is a caretaker but it doesn't end there. She was involved into his patient. She wants to know what happened to her patient so she finds out the real reason. She is given the skeleton key at access all the rooms in the house.
Gena plays as the wife of the owner of the house and she is the one responsible giving the key to kate. Her role is very mysterious and I don't want to add more. Lol
John plays as the patient of kate. He is paralyzed but somehow when they are alone (him and kate), he shows some signs that makes kate suspects his conditions.
The plot is a caregiver given a skeleton key, or a universal key, to access all the rooms in the house but the only room she can't access is the room at the attic. What is the reason behind that? Watch to find out.
Actually, the plot is very uniquely crafted and I really liked it so much. I enjoyed watching this movie. And as the movie progresses, you will be puzzled about the things that will happen next. You will even try to formulate a conclusion about the movie but in the end, you will be surprised about the events in the movie. It is really the best!
9 out of 10 - I gave that rating because of the cast and the plot. Very nice plot. It is very unique! Its theme is suspense and the same time thriller. You will never be able to predict the ending. I GURANTEE YOU THAT! The review of the industry is 7 which is rather low and you can say that this movie is underrated. But somehow, I don't care about the industry's review because I really enjoyed this movie!
REALLY good movie. One of the best for me! The scene that I like is the scene:
When kate said: "I don't believe I don't believe!", but the truth is she believes so she was gone. And if you want to know the meaning of gone, WATCH THE MOVIE!
Caroline Ellis (Kate Hudson) gives up her job as a nurse at a hospital in New Orleans to work as an in-house carer in a mansion on the outskirts of New Orleans for Ben Devereaux (John Hurt), a stroke victim on his last legs who can no longer walk or talk. Caroline is given a skeleton key by Devereaux's wife Violet (Gena Rowlands) which allows her access to every room in the house. She finds her way into a secret room in the attic which contains voodoo dolls, a book of spells and other items of black magic.
Violet tells Caroline that the room used to belong to two black servants called Mama Cecile and Papa Justify who worked in the house in the twenties and practised Afro-Caribbean magic. When their white employers discovered that Mama Cecile and Papa Justify had been performing spells with their children they were hung and burnt alive.
Caroline begins to suspect that Violet has been performing black magic on her husband Ben and shares her concerns with the Devereaux's young lawyer Luke (Peter Sarsgaard) and her friend Jill (Joy Bryant).
Don't watch The Skeleton Key if you want to see blood and guts, it's not a horror film. The Skeleton Key is a supernatural thriller and an above average one at that. It reminds me a bit of The Shining for some reason. Gena Rowlands' portrayal of the mysterious and sinister Violet has a touch of an Jack Torrance feel to it in a female sense.
The Skeleton Key is a bit of a change of direction for Goldie Hawn's daughter Kate Hudson who is better known for romantic comedys such as How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days and You, Me & Dupree. However she more or less pulls it off although the script doesn't allow her that much dialogue at times. She spends a lot of time pulling faces to be honest.
John Hurt is a bit wasted in this film because he doesn't say actually say anything although he almost did at one time.
Joy Bryant's portrayal of Caroline's friend Jill is a bit lame to be honest. She only seems to appear to offer Caroline some advice.
Generally The Skeleton Key is an enjoyable film with a clever twist. A lot of it is shot in the dark but it adds to the suspense. There are plans for a sequel to be released in 2009. The Skeleton Key was written by Ehren Kruger, the screenwriter who re-drafted The Ring for it's American remake.
DVD Extras -
There are a number of extras but they are all very short.
Casting The Skeleton Key is the longest piece at 9 minutes and is relatively uninspiring. A House Called Felicity, a 5 minute piece about the film's location The Felicity Plantation is a bit better.
The contemporary feel of the film's soundtrack is discussed by music supervisor Sara Lord in Blues Of The Bayou (6 minutes in length).
Kate Hudson's Ghost Story sees the star of the film share a "spooky" supernatural experience which really did happen apparently. It's only 3 minutes in length.
Exploring Voodoo/Hoodoo is a 4 minute short which explains the differences between the two.
Behind The Locked Door: Making The Skeleton Key is another short documentary (5 minutes) which just gives everyone involved a pat on the back.
Basically more effort could have been made with these extras.
Before watching this movie, I had low expectations of it being any good. My sister had told me how much she hated this movie, and we usually like the same movies. Well on this movie we disagree. I really like this movie. I like the whole Cajun setting, hoodoo element (not voodoo, hoodoo- old African magic), the suspense, the twisted ending. This movie is different than a lot of suspense/thriller movies out there.
Caroline takes a job as a caretaker in a Louisiana Plantation home. She is caring for stroke victim Ben. Caroline becomes suspicious of the old house and Violet Ben's wife always lurking about. She gets the skeleton key of the home and goes up to the mysterious attic, she finds all sorts of things relating to hoodoo. Violet says she has never even been up there, that all that stuff must belong to the homes previous owner's workers who were practicing black magic and lynched. Caroline does not believe in magic but wants to find out why Ben had his stroke after going in that very attic!
The whole setting for this movie gives off a creepy vibe. The only thing that might be considered a negative for this movie is that there is a lot of talking, but I felt the talking is what made you really understand the complicated story. Kate Hudson did a great job playing Caroline. Gena Rowlands was excellent playing the creepy Violet. The story is good but the ending is what leaves you stunned. I definitely recommend this movie.
Caroline Ellis is dissatisfied with her job as a care worker in an old people's home. Her problem is that she seems to care too much. When one particular old man dies, she is shocked by the callous way in which his belongings are discarded by the rest home and decides that she wants to do something where she can actually look after people properly. She scans through the local job adverts and finds a situation vacant in a remote New Orleans household and sets off in her battered VW Beetle to investigate further.
Having eventually found the place she is at once curious about the creepy old house. Within seconds of meeting the lady of the house, Violet Devereaux, she immediately meets with hostility, but when she is introduced to Ben Devereaux, incapacitated by a mysterious stroke, she decides that she can do some good here. With some persuasion from the family's solicitor she packs up her stuff and moves from the city to live in the house with the elderly couple.
On her first evening in the house, Violet gives her a basic tour and issues some instructions. The house is kept in strange order indeed. Caroline is given a skeleton key. The key, she is told, will open all the doors in the house, which must otherwise be kept locked at all times. Mirrors are not allowed in any of the rooms and Caroline is told that she should leave the housekeeping to Violet as she is the only one who "understands the house." Caroline's curiosity is naturally aroused and it isn't long before she finds herself exploring the house and some of its darker secrets. Within a secret room in the attic she finds a stash of items belonging to the home's housekeepers from the 1930s and when she enquires of Violet Devereaux she learns that the house has a terrible past.
And for Caroline, this can only mean the threat of an even more terrible future. There are secrets locked behind the terrified eyes of old Ben Devereaux. If only he could speak
From the beginning of The Skeleton Key, you get the uneasy feeling that the heroine of this tale is in hot water. The remote location of the country estate could be a thing of beauty but instead simply introduces the danger of isolation. The hostility of Violet Devereaux could be written off as elderly frustration but in fact it seems to bode danger. Ben Devereaux's vulnerability creates dependancy and even the friendliness of the family lawyer seems insincere. And in The Skeleton Key, if something doesn't quite seem to be what it is supposed to be, then you would do well to trust your instincts. What a shame, then, that Caroline Ellis doesn't.
From the writer of The Ring 2 (Ehren Kruger), The Skeleton Key is a twisted little tale of dark magic and malevolent secrets. It is also, however, mystery telling by numbers and never really manages to strike that balance between mystery and thriller in such a way that an adult audience would be truly satisfied. The jumps and scares (when they come) are text book stuff, comprised of little more than slammed doors and dropped glasses. This is a film for scaredy-cats who like their scares conventional and rather predictable. Indeed, the larger part of the story is really quite predictable. Needless to say, the house has a history and certain people know more about it than they originally let on. The real question is, exactly who knows exactly what?
The tameness of the finished product doesn't mean to say that there is nothing here to enjoy though. The deep South location filming is equally eerie and stunning and despite the film's spooky content inspires me only to go over and visit even quicker than I had planned. The voodoo theme is fairly interesting (if not rather superficial) and doesn't get terribly carried away with itself such that plausibility is too greatly stretched. As things rattle along, you do get pulled into the story and a little nagging voice in your head wonders whether this tale is going to have a happy ending.
Whether or not that is the case, I'm obviously not going to tell you, but do let me impart the knowledge that this film has a killer twist that wraps things up beautifully and flourishes the whole thing with a deliciously wicked after taste.
Kate Hudson manages to extricate herself from romantic comedies and launches herself into an entirely new genre. Although she (and the rest of the cast) suffers from a rather lightweight script, I think she works very well and for me was a convincing lead. She seems to have conviction and doesn't fall too willingly into the role of a helpless female. As a character, Caroline Ellis certainly seems to care about what's going on and I can't see any reason why Hudson couldn't take on meatier roles of this nature. Gen Rowland's Violet Devereaux is convincing enough too, even if she does seem to have taken her lead from The Wicked Witch of the West's school of character acting. Never mind the ruby slippers though - what IS it about those little cigarettes that seem to define her character so closely
The lawyer (played here by Peter Saarsgard) is an odd fellow and it isn't really clear whether this is deliberate on Saarsgard's part or not. His part in the story doesn't initially make a great deal of sense and you therefore quickly find yourself indifferent to his presense. John Hurt is spine chillingly good as Ben Deveraux and whilst his lack of dialogue certainly wastes an accomplished character actor, his wild staring eyes and hysterical actions always add to the atmopshere.
The Skeleton Key's biggest weakness is the rather tame content. The film certainly doesn't need to be gory or ultra-violent - the plot simply doesn't require it - but the lack of solid shocks leaves things feeling a bit like an episode of Poirot. Were it not for the final plot twist, I probably wouldn't consider recommending this film, but the denouement is The Skeleton Key's saviour here and lifts this from mediocre to "not so bad after all."
If a supernatural thriller with ups and downs resolved by happy ending is what you are looking for, then this it not for you. That is not a cue to start guessing the ending before or during the film, but a warning for those who prefer all their loose ends to be tied up in a neat little package before the closing credits appear. If you prefer the odd twist, a small disruption in the conventions of cinema as much as I do then give this spooky tale a go if you have nothing better to do.
Like many others, Im am opposed to predictable slash-em-up horrors filled with semi-naked teens meeting a grisly end via a masked foe in a scary mask with a machete. Not that they havent contributed to todays scary movies, theyve simply had their moment in the sun. Now is the age for mystery, a little tension and reality provided to shake you up. Uncertainty leads to vulnerability, and this has not only been learnt by recent cinema regulars, but also by film-makers Iain Softley and Ehren Kruger.
Kate Hudson (Almost Famous, Dr.T and the Women) adopts the role of Caroline Ellis, a young nurse unsettled by the constant impending death of her patients. She resorts to home help and becomes the carer for Ben Devereaux (Hellboy), an elderly gent crippled by a stroke, rendering him speechless and limiting him to very little movement. His wife Violet (an impressive Gena Rowlands - Taking Lives) currently cares for him in a large house on the outskirts of Louisiana, showing its age with an unmanageable garden. She needs an extra pair of hands to give Ben his medication, bathe him and such, and is introduced to Caroline by estate agent and family friend Luke (Peter Sarsgaard - Flightplan).
Carolines job, assisted by her unstoppable curiosity, requires her to have full access to the house and is given the skeleton key by Violet, who tells her that it will open any door in the house. After experimenting, Caroline discovers that there is one door that it will not open, a door abandoned at the back of the attic. She confronts Violet who denies any knowledge and simply asks her not to be so intrusive. Obviously this simply fuels Carolines interest and she finds a way into the room, and into a perturbing world of voodoo and dark arts.
As far as performances go, Hudson is her usual versatile self, and Rowlands keeps her audience sat with straight backs using her stout, forceful approach. However Peter Sarsgaard never quite convinced me. Maybe I could not quite comprehend his character, or his acting was a little wayward; either way I was left unsure by his presence.
I must congratulate those who provide the music for current thrillers, and cinema productions worldwide. Some argue that it is easy to do, but a respectable soundtrack can make or break a movie, and this seems to be happening flawlessly recently, with The Skeleton Key being no exception.
Also I am yet to come across many reputable movies that can portray a theme so questionable as the dark arts, voodoo in particular, with a certain degree of awareness.
With that said, apart from the very unexpected twist that I enjoyed ever so much, I do not feel that this would satisfy such a large audience. Please give me feedback on what you made of the film as I am very interested to know what the general opinion is.
For those who are still unconvinced, enjoy some of the always intriguing special features, including The Making Of, various audio commentaries, deleted scenes, casting and trailers, and several relevant stories.
Runtime - 104 minutes
Country - USA
Certification - UK_15 USA_PG13 Ireland_15A
This is a story of Voodoo magic set in the swamplands of Louisiana............................
Caroline Ellis (Kate Hudson) is a young nurse working in a hospice caring for the elderly sick and dying,
downhearted and disilusioned seeing her patients die one after another in the cold confines of the hospice, she decides to move on.
She applies for and get's a job as a live in carer / nurse in a big old isolated plantation house set in the swamplands of Louisiana.
The creepy and mysterious house has 30 rooms and is practically empty and unused apart from Ben and Violet the elderly husband and wife who live there.
Caroline's new patient is old Ben ( John Hurt ) a stroke victim who is bed-ridden and unable to speak or take care of himself,
Violet ( Gena Rowlands ) on the otherhand is a robust strong minded old fashioned southern woman who seems a bit wary of Caroline in the begining but is quietly reasured by Luke ( Peter Sarsgaard ) the family lawyer who is a regular visitor to the house.
As Caroline settles in Violet gives her a key which supposedly unlocks all the doors in the house,
but she soon discovers there's one door it does'nt open,
this is the door to the attic room at the top of the house.
She questions Violet on why the key does'nt work in that lock and is told it was like that on the day they moved in and the door has never been opened and it was best to leave well alone.
Her curiosity get's the better of her and through sheer determination she manages to unlock the door,
inside, the room is dark and dusty with cobwebs everywhere and mirrors of every size proped up against the walls,
among all of this she sees all sorts of weird stuff .........Bones.....Jars.......animal part's......and books which obviously have something to do with Magic or Voodoo.
She confront's Violet with what she has found and after a brief telling off from her employer, Violet gives in and tell's her yes she knew about the room and what was in it, and that it was used a long time ago for Voodoo rituals and magic.............and that's when the fun begins......................................
Before seeing this movie I had read a few reviews, some said it was good some said it was'nt all that great but I honestly thought it was pretty good!
Although it's a horror there's no blood or gore and I see it as more of a creepy supernatural chiller.
Most of the story is set in the big old house which is surrounded by swampland and the house itself is full of musty unused rooms filled with old and dark antique furniture which makes for a realistic setting and adds to the eerie atmosphere.
The actors play their parts well and make the story all the more believable.........
Kate Hudson plays a very convincing role as Caroline Ellis the nurse ..........who is too inquisitive for her own good,.............to her frail patient who she is positive is ill due to some evil force.
Gena Rowlands gives a great performance as Violet Devereaux the old fashioned southern woman with old fashioned beliefs who seems overly concerned about her husbands health.
John Hurt Does'nt do much talking or much of anything really as he plays a stroke victim but gives a believable performance in his role as Ben Devereaux and draws you into the story as does the rest of the cast.
Peter Sarsgaard is also very convincing as Luke the Devereaux
family lawyer who has befriended Caroline.
I would'nt say this was one of the most origlnal or the scariest of horror's, it does have some creepy moments but most is left to the imagination,
so if you are looking for blood and gore then this is not the movie for you,
This is a well acted very atmospheric, supernatural, voodoo ghost story with a good storyline and an unexpected chilling twist at the end,
which all make for a very watchable and enjoyable movie.
Kate Hudson ........... Caroline Ellis
Gena Rowlands ...... Violet Devereaux
John Hurt .................. Ben Devereaux
Peter Sarsgaard ...... Luke
Joy Bryant .................. Jill
Maxine Barnett .......... Mama Cynthia
Ronald McCall .......... Papa Justify
Audio Commentary with Director Iain Softley
Behind the Locked Door - Making of The Skeleton Key
Recipe and Ritual - Making the Perfect Gumbo
Blues in the Bayou
Kate Hudson's Ghost Story
Casting the Skeleton Key
John Hurt's Story
A House Called Felicity
Gena's Love Spell
Certification - 15
I am a fan of horror movies but they always seem to be so predictable dont they so I was not expecting much from the Skeleton Key when I rented it. I just thought it looked quite interesting and I do like Kate Hudson as I think she is a fun actress. My sister watched it before me and said it was enjoyable so I gave it a go and it was not half bad but there was definite room for improvement and here is why.
At the beginning of the film we are introduced to Caroline Ellis, a young woman who is a nurse. Caroline is given the opportunity to take a job being a carer to a man called Ben who has had a stroke which she accepts immediately. We quickly find out that she does this work because she feels she neglected her father when he was dying as she used to be a bit of a party girl.
Ben is an invalid and lives with his wife in an extremely big house where Caroline is told she will have a room. Bens wife Violet gives Caroline a skeleton key and tells her that the key will open any room in the house.
Doing what we all would do in her situation Caroline takes a look around the house and naturally tries out the skeleton key on a number of doors. While roaming she comes across a door that she cannot open no matter how hard she tries. Frustrated by this she talks to Violet who tells her that the door should remain locked and she should not think about it.
During her caring for Ben, Caroline becomes increasingly intrigued by what is behind the locked door. In the meantime she finds a mirror and places it up in her room. When Violet walks into her room one day she notices the mirror and demands that Caroline takes it down and removes it from the house. When questioned why Violet does not give an answer.
Determined to get into the locked room Caroline uses all her skills to get in and when she does she comes across something she didnt expect to see. She notices hair, blood, voodoo instruments and bones and becomes determined to find out what secrete have been hidden inside the house. When she finds out that Ben had a stroke after entering the room it becomes apparent that the house holds some very dark secrets indeed.
Verdict on the Story:
The actual story is quite good and I think that they have thought a lot into how the story will start and how it will play out as for once in a horror type movie I think they got the ending just right. Where the story fails though is in its way of telling the story as it is slow and at times extremely boring. At first it seems like it is going to warm up fast as she actually goes to the house and gets given the key pretty quickly within half an hour of watching it. The problem is then that it goes into a big lull and takes ages to get anywhere. While it is interesting to watch as you want to see what happens it does get pretty annoying it is not moving faster.
The other thing is that although it sounds a good premise for a story there is not much action in it and although when I think about how it plays out it is quite creepy, while watching the film it does not seem it too much which is why they should have worked a little bit harder in making it live up to its marketing as a horror thriller.
Cast and Characters:
Kate Hudson Caroline Ellis
Peter Sarsgaard Luke
John Hurt Ben Devereaux
Gena Rowlands Violet Devereaux
Verdict on the Cast and Characters:
The cast is pretty cool with Kate Hudson fantastic in her starring role. Hudson is a pro at making you believe that her character is real and she really gets into her role in this movie and is utterly convincing. All of the cast though are great and they are all very easy to watch and they actually do make the film interesting as they really needed to with the script.
The characters themselves are actually not identifiable in any way and they are not memorable at all. In fact I had to ask somebody as I was writing this review to remind me what Kate Hudsons character name was as I forgot. This is the scripts fault as it is not that strong so the characters do not seem very strong at all and are instantly forgettable.
Things to know:
Price £8.97 from Amazon
Runtime 104 minutes
The film is ok but by no means the best but due to a great cast it does make it interesting watching. I think that more work should have gone into the script though to keep viewers interested because I sat there for about half an hour thinking dont worry it will warm up soon and to be fair it did but I hate films that have sloppy beginnings.
The one thing I liked a lot about this film is the ending because although the actual idea is unoriginal they did it very well and it actually did make you wish the film would continue a little longer. I would love to go into more detail but I will not as it would spoil it for those who havent seen it.
The special effects although there are not too many are quite good and you do believe that what you are seeing happen is actually real. The sets are creepy and the colours are continually dark throughout giving a very dark feel to the film. I cannot fault the camera work as they got everything you needed to see into shot so you did not feel like you were missing seeing something.
My major complaint about this movie is that it is unmemorable which is a real shame. I like to watch a movie and think I could watch this again some day but I would never watch this again as overall it was just not good enough. You all should know by now what I am like if I cant identify with characters and with this film I tried but failed. The problem is that you dont really get to know anything about them and this annoyed me especially with the character of Caroline. The main character and the only thing you really get to know about her is her occupation and that she neglected her father but other than that she is just as mysterious as the room she cant open.
In conclusion this film gets three stars for me because the performances from the cast were great but I do feel the film took a long time to warm up and I think that if Sam had not told me to watch it all the way through I might have given up with it after about half an hour as it was quite hard going. Worth renting but I wouldnt recommend buying it.
Thanks for reading.
A young woman helping care for an invalid in New Orleans finds herself caught in the middle of morbid going-ons centered around a group of Hoodoo (Not Voodoo, it's different. Hoodoo is an old African American magic that only works if you believe in it.) practitioners.