The Skeleton Key Not that Scary

Set in the swamps outside New Orleans, this thriller stars Kate Hudson as Caroline, a live-in nurse for an elderly woman’s husband, who had a stroke. The home’s owner gives Caroline a skeleton key to open every room in the house, and as she inspects the home, finds a door that the key won’t open.

The foreboding atmosphere, and even creepier house (and the woman who lives there) set the scene for the thriller that explores New Orleans’ mystic belief of Hoodoo. Written by Ehren Kruger (The Ring) and directed by Iain Softley (K-PAX), this supernatural movie keeps the audience in suspence, but doesn’t deliver the scare factor expected from the previews.

Hudson’s right on the mark, portraying a caring, sweet nurse who’s simply looking to help people, while Gena Rowlands (playing the old woman) keeps the audience’s attention with her fantastic performance of a woman who loves her husband, mistrusts the help, and wants to keep the secret of the old house.

The cinematography of this movie is amazing! Many alternative camera shots and angles are used to make the film suspenseful, and also to integrate past with present and enhance the storyline.

While there was no ‘jump out of your seat’ moment in this film, there was an enjoyable intensity to keep you on the edge of your seat and wondering what is going to happen next.

A big part of this film is the introduction and use of ‘Hoodoo’–the belief of magic that is embraced in the New Orleans area of Louisiana. The tribal beliefs and practices stem from a combination of Native American, African slave, and European rituals. Hoodoo focuses on the personal power, not to be confused with Voodoo, which is viewed as a religion and involves theology. Hoodoo is used by any common-folk who believe in the magic…and in turn, it only works on those who also believe.

‘The Skeleton Key’ had its moments, and took some fantastic twists throughout the story, keeping the audience on edge. The storyline was fairly simple, and sub-plots were lacking. There is a side story consisting of Caroline’s desire to help people by being a nurse because she didn’t spend enough time with her father before his death, but it wasn’t a very well-developed storyline, and didn’t add much to the overall effect of the film.

I will give this film credit for its filming technique, special effects, and the acting was quite good in the movie as well, but overall, it just didn’t have the scare factor that was conveyed by the previews seen on TV.

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