6.5/10
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The Skeleton Key (2005)

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

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

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

Taglines:

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:

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Details

Official Sites:

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Country:

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Language:

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Release Date:

12 August 2005 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der verbotene Schlüssel  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$43,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£769,698 (UK) (29 July 2005)

Gross:

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

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| |

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

John Hurt offered to perform the stunt of Ben falling off the roof, but he was not allowed as the stunt was ruled too dangerous to guarantee no injury. See more »

Goofs

Toward the beginning of the movie, Caroline takes a shower and goes to sleep. She is awoken by Ben crawling on the roof and goes outside to save him. The rain makes her faces drip mascara, which she never had time to put on since her shower. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

Referenced in Be Kind Rewind (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

If I Can Dream
Written by Earl Brown (as W. Earl Brown)
Performed by Elvis Presley
Courtesy of Sony BMG Strategic Marketing Group/The RCA Records Label
By Arrangement with Sony BMG Music Entertainment
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A solid 6/10 - pushing a 7 because the ending is good.
19 July 2005 | by (London) – See all my reviews

Good performances all round. Good locations. Quite a lot of restraint on the writer's/director's part, building the chills in a more classic 70's way than out-and-out ghosts and scares. In fact, a few more scares after the half-way mark would have been welcome; if the ghosts were used any less, they wouldn't be in the film! The reason I've only rated a 6/10, is because it's so predictable. If you've seen any thriller set in the Deep South, you've seen this one. The background story is textbook 'New Orleans' voodoo vengeance, the characters' motives are obvious from the second they appear on screen, and the solid but pedestrian cinematography means that the locations are massively underused. If you've got a decrepit colonial mansion with antique furniture, surrounded by swamps and trees draped in that Lianna/lichen stuff, you've got to be pretty boring NOT to make it all seem brooding & scary - which is unfortunately what they've done.

Kate Hudson is really switched-on, and not your average dumb heroine. There's even one (small) moment where I think I saw a conscious attempt to subvert the conventions and have her do something quite intelligent while in a perilous situation. It's not a big thing, but I noticed. John Hurt is surprisingly effective, really 'working' his eyes and body, considering he's had a stroke (in the film). Gena Rowlands and Peter Saarsgard are fine, but their performances are hampered by the 'all too obvious' script and direction. Joy Bryant is gorgeous but her character is nothing more than a device to give Kate slightly more personality and a convenient person who can explain about hoodoo/voodoo.

Before I shut up, it's important to say something about the ending (without giving anything away). I'm not talking about the 'third act' - that's a bit OTT, as often happens in horror/thrillers - I mean the final scene.. Although the film as a whole is predictable and doesn't quite live up to its potential, the final scenes wrap up the story nicely and will put a grin on your face.

If you've not seen a lot of horror/thriller films, you'd probably give Skeleton Key a 7 or 8 out of 10 - it's coherent, not too long, and fairly enjoyable (like I say, Kate Hudson & Gena Rowlands are really good). But I have seen a lot to compare it to, so 6/10 it is. Which is still worth watching on a dull afternoon, or on a rental.


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