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The Skeleton Key (2005)

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A hospice nurse working at a spooky New Orleans plantation home finds herself entangled in a mystery involving the house's dark past.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ben Devereaux
Maxine Barnett ...
Mama Cynthia
Fahnlohnee R. Harris ...
Hallie (as Fahnlohnee Harris)
Marion Zinser ...
Bayou Woman
Desk Nurse
Trula M. Marcus ...
Nurse Trula (as Trula Marcus)
Tonya Staten ...
Nurse Audrey
Robertson Thorpe (as Tom Uskali)
Madeleine Thorpe
Martin Thorpe


A young hospice worker helping care for an invalid who lives in a remote mansion in the Louisiana bayous finds herself caught in the middle of morbid happenings centered around a group of Hoodoo practitioners. Written by Ed

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


It can open any door. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images, some partial nudity and thematic material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:

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Release Date:

12 August 2005 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der verbotene Schlüssel  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$43,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£769,698 (UK) (29 July 2005)


$47,806,295 (USA) (21 October 2005)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Ronald McCall had to cut his dreadlocks to play the character of Papa Justify. See more »


When Caroline is showing Jill the newspaper ad for the hospice job, she has circled it numerous times with wide pen strokes. When Jill looks at it again, the pen strokes have obviously changed positions, more an oval shape. See more »


[first lines]
Caroline Ellis: [reading from Treasure Island] I lost no time, of course, in telling my mother all that I knew, and we saw ourselves at once in a difficult and dangerous position. Something must speedily be resolved upon, and it occurred to us at last to go forth together and seek help in the neighboring hamlet. No sooner said than done. Bare-headed as we were, we ran out at once into the gathering evening and the frosty fog. The hamlet lay not many hundred yards away, though out of view on the ...
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Crazy Credits

There are no opening credits. See more »


Referenced in Saturday Night Live: Peter Sarsgaard/The Strokes (2006) See more »


Conjure of Sacrifice
Written by Ehren Kruger, Walter Breaux, Bruce Sunpie Barns, Fawn Lohnee Harris, Eluard Burt II,
Alfred Roberts
Performed by Walter Breaux, Bruce Sunpie Barns, Fawn Lohnee Harris, Eluard Burt II, Alfred Roberts
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

They Do that Hoodoo that they Do so...eh, Relatively Well
14 August 2005 | by (New Jersey, USA) – See all my reviews

Horror movies have become a dime a dozen in the past few years. The watchable ones seem to fall into two categories of late: misguided psychological thrillers headlined by a consummate actress (witness Naomi Watts in "The Ring 2" or Jennifer Connelly in "Dark Water") or over the top slasher/gore-fests with serious kitsch value (witness Romero's enjoyable zombie flick "Land of the Dead" or Rob Zombie's sadistic "Devil's Rejects"). All of the rest have pretty much been unbearable cliché-ridden hack jobs ("White Noise," "Darkness Falls," etc...)

Oddly enough, "The Skeleton Key" doesn't fall into any of these categories and it comes across as a breath of fresh air, an old-fashioned throwback to the traditional Gothic mystery thriller, where a pretty female outsider (Kate Hudson acquitting herself rather nicely here as the hospice nurse traveling deep into the Bayou to care for an apparent stroke victim) moves into a big old house/castle that just might be haunted. The director and screenwriter start things slowly, and do a nice job of creating a realistic setting before letting all the mumbo-jumbo slowly and effectively creep in. Gena Rowlands and John Hurt (immobile and mute for most of the film) are fairly good in their respective roles as the married couple with more than just skeletons in their closets. We've seen this stuff all before, but it's done fairly well here with no sense of flash or pretensions, and as silly (and potentially offensive) as all this Hoodoo in the Bayou stuff is, the audience is treated to a twist ending that makes perfect sense in the context we have been given. This isn't a twist ending for twisting sake, but a fitting conclusion to the story.

"The Skeleton Key" tries to remind people of classics like "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Others." It may not ultimately hold a candle to those films, but it's a very entertaining way to spend a few hours.

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