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


Iain Softley


Ehren Kruger
3,493 ( 912)
5 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Kate Hudson ... Caroline Ellis
Gena Rowlands ... Violet Devereaux
John Hurt ... Ben Devereaux
Peter Sarsgaard ... Luke Marshall
Joy Bryant ... Jill
Maxine Barnett ... Mama Cynthia
Fahnlohnee R. Harris Fahnlohnee R. Harris ... Hallie (as Fahnlohnee Harris)
Marion Zinser Marion Zinser ... Bayou Woman
Deneen Tyler ... Desk Nurse
Ann Dalrymple ... C.N.A.
Trula M. Marcus Trula M. Marcus ... Nurse Trula (as Trula Marcus)
Tonya Staten Tonya Staten ... Nurse Audrey
Thomas Uskali ... Robertson Thorpe (as Tom Uskali)
Jen Apgar ... Madeleine Thorpe
Forrest Landis ... Martin Thorpe


Caroline Ellis, a Nurse, quits her job to take care of a elderly man named Ben Devereux who has had a stroke and can't talk. When she gets to the Home in Terrebone parish Louisiana, Ben's wife, Violet Devereux acts suspicious and creepy. The Family Lawyer, Luke Marshall tries to convince her to stay. Caroline ends up staying. She ends up in the attic and she finds a secret room in the attic full of spells, hair and bones used to practice HooDoo. Violet says she has never seen the secret room. Caroline wants to help Ben, she thinks his wife Violet has put a spell on him. She knows HooDoo can't hurt you if you don't believe. Caroline does whatever she can to save Ben from his wife and crazy things start to happen. Written by amberbrigman

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Fearing Is Believing See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The swamp behind the Devereaux house was created with CGI effects. The actual house used in this movie, 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 »


When Ben is trying to kill himself, Caroline isn't as wet when she goes to wake up Violet, but is completely wet when she first goes outside to help Ben. 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 »


Featured in WatchMojo: Top 20 Horror Movie Plot Twists (2020) See more »


Bounce That Thing
Written by Torrey McKinley, Dustin Fleetwood, Roderick Harrison and Roslyn Flot
Performed by 3rd Infantry
Courtesy of No Jack Music
See more »

User Reviews

Avoids clichés for the most part but fails to create a spooky atmosphere
31 August 2005 | by SuperunknovvnSee all my reviews

The first thing you notice about "The Skeleton Key" is that it doesn't start like almost every horror movie these days. There's no shocking opening sequence and for the first 15 minutes or so nothing supernatural happens. The movie starts by introducing its characters and that's very refreshing. In fact, I had great expectations after that slow start. I mean when was the last time a horror movie (or psychological thriller, if you want) has really taken the time to build up a proper story? For the most part the movie manages to steer clear of typical horror clichés, but now and then the makers seemed to feel the urge to put in a totally predictable and unnecessary jump for the sake of not making the whole thing too boring. That's the one major problem of "The Skeleton Key".

Although the basic of it is a compelling story the whole thing isn't set up well. The movie never really gets boring, but it doesn't keep you on the edge of your seat, either. There are some riddles to be solved there, but it's never mysterious or spooky enough to make you forget everything else around you (which a really good movie is able to do). Apart from the aforementioned silly shock effects, producers would sometimes add some spooky elements just to make it more interesting, but in retrospective many of them didn't really make much sense. Also, for all the time the movie took to get started I didn't really feel a connection with the characters. Kate Hudson has guilty pleasures because she wasn't there when her father died, but that's about all we get to know about her (and looking at the movie's ending it would have been a good thing if we'd known her better, so we could feel for her more). The lack of character development and the use of stylish, soon-to-look-silly-effects (the flashback scenes) prevent the movie from creating a really moody and spooky atmosphere. The story takes place in a creepy house with swamps nearby. How could they not make it spooky? On the other hand, you get top notch performances of all the main actors, especially Mrs. Rowlands and you can tell that the writer at least tried to come up with something new. While "The Skeleton Key" doesn't achieve the greatness of classic "psychological thrillers" such as "The Shining", "The Wicker Man" or "Don't Look Now", it's still compelling enough to be miles above missed attempts at the same genre, like "Godsend" or "Hide & Seek". And the ending - although not really a jaw-dropping twist in the tradition of "The Sixth Sense" or "The Usual Suspects" - makes up for a lot of flaws. So wait until the credits roll, before you dismiss the movie as being to predictable.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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USA | Germany


English | French

Release Date:

12 August 2005 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Skeleton Key See more »


Box Office


$43,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$16,057,945, 14 August 2005

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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