6.5/10
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414 user 183 critic

The Skeleton Key (2005)

PG-13 | | Drama, Horror, Mystery | 12 August 2005 (USA)
Trailer
2:18 | Trailer
A hospice nurse working at a spooky New Orleans plantation home finds herself entangled in a mystery involving the house's dark past.

Director:

Iain Softley

Writer:

Ehren Kruger
5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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
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Storyline

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

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:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

At the opening of this movie, the book that Caroline (Kate Hudson) is reading to the hospice patient is Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island". Toward the beginning of that work, Jim Hawkins is caring for the elderly Billy Bones after the man had a stroke. Caroline begins her ordeal in the same way: taking care of the elderly Ben Devereaux (Sir John Hurt) post-stroke. See more »

Goofs

When Caroline makes a 911 call, she gives the street address of the house and says it's "in Terrebone Parish." Parishes are like counties in that they are composed of many, many different small towns and cities. She would have to give a specific city/town name in order for emergency vehicles to get there. However, because the house isn't located in any particular town (but rather out in the swampland), it is more likely that the address given to 911 by Caroline IS the full address, and that what is supposed to be a street name is actually just a name of a very scarcely settled small town with no particular streets. Thus, an address consisting of just a town name and house number would be legitimate. 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 »


Soundtracks

Come On in My Kitchen
Written by Robert Johnson
Performed by Robert Johnson
Courtesy of Columbia Records
By Arrangement with Sony BMG Music Entertainment
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User Reviews

 
A solid 6/10 - pushing a 7 because the ending is good.
19 July 2005 | by tenten76See 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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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA | Germany

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

12 August 2005 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Skeleton Key See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$43,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$16,057,945, 14 August 2005

Gross USA:

$47,907,715

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$93,983,911
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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