The last few years theaters have been invaded by a slew of horror films. Most haven’t been anything to write home about however. Skeleton Key
is by far one of the best of this recent pack. It may be unbeliveable but, it’s slick, well paced and has a hummdinger of an ending.
Caroline (Kate Hudson) is a disillusioned nursing student, who responds to an ad for a hospice worker at an old plantation estate in the swamps of Louisinana. Once hired, she begins to treat aged stroke victim Ben Devereaux(John Hurt). Ben’s wife Violet (Gena Rowlands) is a friendly, but decidedly bizarre southern belle.
Caroline soon becomes convinced that Ben’s affliction is mostly in his mind. She tries to confide in Luke(Peter Sarsgaard), the Deveraux family lawyer but he doesn’t understand.
Caroline accidentally discovers that her key opens a secret room in the attic, which really gets the story moving. At first she is cynical of ghosts, hoodoo, & the supernatural – but that doesn’t last long. Her best friend Jill(Joy Braynt) warns her to be careful. Hoodoo supposedly only works on people who actually believe in it.
However as Caroline delves deeper and deeper into the myseteries of the Deveraux family she questions if she really does believe in the dark magic. The ending, while not a huge shock to me, was brilliantly exectured, and I was happy the filmmakers stood by their guns. Not often do Hollywood films have the guts to have a downbeat ending.
The film is really suspenseful, and very well acted. Hudson sheds her comedic persona and is quite believeable playing the everywoman do-gooder. Her progression from strict non believer to scared woman is handled naturally. Rowlands has alot of fun chewing the scenery and makes a tremendous villain. Hurt and Sarsgaard are respectable in more minor roles.
Overall, not a great horror film, but a very watchable one. It should no doubt please fans of the genre.
3 out of 4 stars