Wednesday, December 29, 2010

'The Skeleton Key' is full of badly used cliches

The Skeleton Key (2005)
Starring Kate Hudson, Gena Rowlands, Peter Sarsgaard, and John Hurt
Director: Iain Softley
Rating: Four of Ten Stars

Caroline (Hudson), a hospice nurse with personal issues, is hired to help an elderly woman (Rowlands) with her dying, paralyzed husband (Hurt). They live in a creepy old Southern mansion, deep in the bayou, and surrounded by even creepier villages. Caroline soon discovers that there is more going on in the creepy house than meets the eye and that the man she is tending to is more likely the victim of a magical curse than a stroke. Soon, this young non-believer is drawn into a world of folk-magic, curses, and southern discomfort!

"The Skeleton Key" does a nice job of drawing the viewers into the strange environment into which Caroline enters, and it does a fine job at pacing the story, but when it comes to staying involved with the story, viewers have to be willing to accept the fact that everything Caroline does is dictated by plot concerns and horror movie "stupid character" cliches. If viewers don't mind a character who lives her life by "Things Every Horror Movie Character Must Do in Order to Live Up to Bad Writing Principles," the suspense in "The Skeleton Key" never lets up.

When it comes down to it, "The Skeleton Key" is yet another paint-by-numbers supernatural thriller that brings nothing new to the table. It could almost have been a neat film like "Cursed," except that it uses too many of the cliched elements badly. Caroline's behavior and actions is the most glaring of these. The "twist ending" is also so well-worn that I can't comment on it without spoiling the entire movie... but I could have done without it.


  1. It's not a film that I'd ever watch again but only because it cashed in on the downbeat ending craze which I got pretty bored with at the time.

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  3. Sorry, but, I liked it. Was very thrilling & a DIFFERENT path & change of pace for Kate Hudson. Very dark, & not her typical kind of movie or character.