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Reviewed in the United States on November 18, 2017
This is an awesome horror movie no one ever seems to remember. I thought it was very exciting and it drew me in. Not a perfect movie, not like academy award material, but I highly recommend it. You'll want to watch it twice because once details emerge at the end it's like watching a different movie. It's especially great for those who don't like excess gore/sex, good for families with older kids who want a good horror movie, other than a minor flash of side boob and nude back there is no sex/nudity and not a lot of gratuitous gore. Mostly just good storytelling.
I would have to rate this as one of the top thiller/scary films I've ever seen extremely underrated way more scary then the movie Get Out in my opinion if you seen the movie Get Out directed by Jordan Pelle I recommend you give this film a watch you will not be disappointed
Well scripted, well told Southern Gothic tale...full disclosure-I was in this part of the country in 2005-06 in the aftermath of the hurricanes...The tellig hits the Southern gestalt exactly right...they are gentile, cordial, and courteous, and yet one always gets the feeling that something is being hidden from you, a great and horrible secret is not being told...this movie captures that feeling, for me, exactly...well acted by all players, major and minor...a complex story expertly told...the director holds the cards close to the vest all the way through, and reveals the twist, the hook, as it were, right at the end...
I first watched this movie on cable almost 10 years ago. I thought it was so good that I never forgot about it and wanted to order it on Amazon. Watched it again, and it was just as good/creepy/menacing as I remembered. Great acting with an excellent plot that constantly keeps you guessing. (Note: Too scary for kids.)
Only if you have never seen a scary movie, or unfamiliar with voodoo, or don't mind happenings that don't make sense will you like this movie. I'm not a big fan of Ms Hudson but she does an adequate job with the scrip she is given. There are so many cliche's in this production that the viewer could probably skip forward every 15 minutes or so and not miss anything. Ms Hudson is doing hospice work at a spooky southern mansion. The patient can not speak and is bedridden. the woman in charge is a shrew and doesn't want a stranger in her home. There are many locked doors, the attic being the obvious entry to scary hood. Of course our hospice worker investigates it ASAP. the bed ridden patient manages to throw himself out of a second story window during a rain storm. He also manages to write a Help Me message on a sheet that he left behind. Then that sheet disappears It just goes on and on. I didn't watch it to the end, but I'm sure there will be some sort of "magic" voodoo ritual and we will find out the old lady is a terrible person.
This isn't a bad movie. It just doesn't live up to the hype. 99% of the movie was just Kate Hudson snooping around and being rude. I get that she's doing penance for failing her father, but ffs, call the cops. It's clear Ben was overmedicated.
Gena Rowlands was brilliant: courteous, sympathizing, and scary as hell. With her, John Heard and Peter Saarsgard, all great actors, this movie would have been greatly improved with almost any other actor playing Caroline except mono-expression Kate Hudson. She is a terrible actress. She looked like a 3rd grader in the Christmas pageant next to Gena Rowlands. I love films where you wouldn't change a thing about it. This is not one.
Otherwise the atmosphere was thin (I've been to the South) and the pacing was ridiculous. All of the action was in the last 7 minutes. It gave me too much time to think about how bad Kate Hudson was. The only part they got right was the Southern Lady saying "bless your heart" with a knife hidden behind her back.
Kudos to the ever wonderful Gena Rowlands! I gave 3 stars for her. It would have been zero stars otherwise.
The Skeleton Key is just not that good a movie. You've seen its setting, storyline, characters, and action in a dozen movies before.
The setting is the stereotypical, decaying, old antebellum plantation house set amongst giant oaks out in the bayous of Louisiana. You've seen it before, especially in those old Bette Davis movies. Oh, and New Orleans and Louisiana Bayou country are the usual... New Orleans is black people playing jazz and partying, and Louisiana Bayou country is poor, violent, and racist, with weird creole people. You've seen it a hundred times in a hundred different movies.
The storyline is the stereotypical Evil-Voodoo-in-the-Bayou and Southern White People Behaving Badly.
The characters are straight out of New Orleans/Bayou/Southern Gothic central casting: Creoles with magic powers! Eccentric Southern whites! Partying in New Orleans! Southern lawyers with bad Southern accents! And then there's Kate Hudson's character- the quintessential, stereotypical, white girl "not from around here" who makes one bad decision after another. She sticks out like a sore thumb and is absolutely unbelievable as a character. Seriously, when was the last time you saw a pretty young blonde from New Jersey - all alone in the world - going down to the deep South to be a hospice care worker? Oh, and she moves through New Orleans and the Louisiana bayous, and no one notices her? Riiiiiiggght...
The action is plodding. Okay, something is going on, but it moves waaaaaaay too slowly. The creole hoodoo-voodoo is overly complicated and never explained. And the reveal at the end just isn't that unusual.
So The Skeleton Key is failed Southern Gothic. Annoying stereotypes, and nothing you haven't seen before in a ghost story set in Louisiana. Casting Kate Hudson as the lead character just made it worse. Don't rent this movie. Watch it free on TV only if you are forced to.
4.0 out of 5 starsIntelligent Deep South supernatural thriller
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 3, 2013
The Skeleton Key is a supernatural thriller, rather than a horror film, and it is based deep in Louisiana. Care nurse Caroline Ellis (Kate Hudson), disaffected with her employer’s indifferent attitude towards its patients, seeks alternative care work and finds herself newly employed at the backwater plantation home of Violet (Gena Rowlands) and her invalid husband Ben (John Hurt), who's been rendered mute and seemingly helpless by a recent stroke. As the plot slowly develops, Caroline discovers that sinister powers are at play involving hoodoo, an Afro-Caribbean magic or witchcraft. The story that follows is essentially her attempt to rescue Ben; it has several twists and turns and is quite complex but, as other reviewers say, the ending is unexpected.
What makes this film so enjoyable is that the supernatural elements are not overplayed; in fact they are introduced with considerable subtlety, so that the viewer, initially sceptical, is unconsciously drawn in along with Caroline to start believing in the effects of hoodoo. The gramophone record with the ‘conjure of sacrifice’ track is particularly effective in adding to the atmosphere and suspense. Definitely a film for those who appreciate a more cerebral thriller experience.
4.0 out of 5 starsAn excellent and unsettling horror
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 29, 2012
This film gets off to a slow start but once the story picks up it is excellent. Kate Hudson plays Caroline, a young hospice nurse who really cares about her patient's well being. Looking for more career fulfillment she agrees to take a job nursing an elderly man, Ben played brilliantly by John Hurt, who has recently suffered a devastating stroke. Hurt really conveys Ben's feelings of helplesness and fear. Gina Rowlands plays Violet Devereaux a life-long Southerner with a suspiscion of strangers. Hudson gives a terrific and convincing performance. Caroline is a gutsy woman who won't abandon her patient under any circumstances. The story is set in New Orleans and Caroline soon learns more about the gruesome history of the huge house in which she is living. There is one room in the house which Violet Devereaux declares out of bounds but Caroline is curious and determined to find out more. Evey encounter with a stranger seems charged with tension and menace and I couldn't help wishing she would just drive back to New Jersey. The pace of the film realy picks up working towards a surprising and unsettling conclusion. I thought that I had worked out the twist in the tale but I was wrong.
5.0 out of 5 starsthis is a good film you should know by now I don't lie
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 29, 2014
a care worker is brought to an old plantation house to care for a disabled man who cannot talk ,strange things happen asshe finds the disabled man crawling along the roof in heavy rain and leaving messages for help,little does the carer know that the old woman is using whichcraft and black magic to gain the carers lifeforce ,her young age to make herself young again,will she do it.......this is a good film you should know by now I don't lie,i recommend it
Most horror scare you using gruesome monsters or pyshpoathic melee weapon wielding killers or scary little Japanese girls. This is one of those movies where you're kept guessing about what is actually going on. It's a really good story and not just a movie filled with gruesome scenes and loud noises to make you jump. Don't expect obvious fear tatics to try and make you worry. It's not scary, but it is mysterious and eerie.
Fantastic acting by the four main actors/actresses. All four really played their part well, and really drew you in.