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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


You will believe. 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?


The swamp behind the Devereaux house was created with CGI effects. The actual house used in the film, Felicity Plantation, is situated inland in St. James Parish and is surrounded by farmland. The fictional Devereaux house was situated in Terrebonne Parish, which is coastal and swampy. See more »


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 »


[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 Be Kind Rewind (2008) See more »


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

Well Spun Southern-Gothic Horror Tale.
23 April 2006 | by (New York, NY, United States) – See all my reviews

I saw "The Skeleton Key" back in August 2005 during it's theatrical run, and I can say it was one of the better horror/thrillers of the year.

"The Skeleton Key" is about a young hospice worker named Caroline Ellis who decided to take a caregiving job outside of New Orleans deep in the bayou. She will be working for Violet Devereaux, and will be taking care of her bed ridden husband, Ben. Caroline senses something eerie about the old plantation house, and begins to uncover a strange chain of events and incidents after opening a secret room within the attic. In the attic are all kinds of strange things, and strangest of all and old record called 'The Conjure of Sacrifice'. Caroline begins to suspect something isn't going right within the home. She asks her friend Jill who explains that the attic is probably a Hoodoo room, and tells Caroline that Hoodoo is folk magic, and it can't hurt you if you don't believe in it. But if Caroline dares believe in what she has been exposed to, it can ultimately destroy her. Could there be ghosts within the old home? Or could something else even more sinister be going on?

I can't say a whole lot about this movie, but trust me you will be pleased with it, and the ending will surely shock you. It has to be one of the greatest twists I've seen in a movie, and came completely unexpected. When you think you know what's happening, everything is completely reversed, and I have much respect for the writer of this film, who incidentally wrote 2002's hit "The Ring". I think this film is by far better though.

The movie sets a very creepy tone and atmosphere, with all the imagery of the Spanish moss, etc. Director Softeley uses lots of southern imagery to add a certain texture to the movie. Also the record featured in the film, 'The Conjure of Sacrifice' is very creepy, listening to it can give you the chills. Kate Hudson is excellent as our main character, and Gena Rowlands was perfect for the shadowy yet friendly old woman. John Hurt is great too, speaking hardly one word throughout the whole movie, yet giving a perfect performance by mannerisms and facial expression. How many actors can do that?

I think one of the reasons this movie appealed to me so much was because it took place in the South, and I've always been fascinated with places like that, but overall I think anyone can enjoy the movie - it has great acting, an excellent story, and some pleasingly creepy moments. But don't expect some blood and guts horror film, this movie builds tension and suspense rather than drench us with blood, it isn't that type of horror film. "The Skeleton Key" is an excellent Southern-Gothic mystery, compelling all the way through. They don't make many of 'em like this. 10/10.

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