2005 mystery/thriller: Directed by Iain Softley; starring: Kate Hudson, Gena Rowlands, and Peter Sarsgaard. [rated PG-13] Stars given: 3.5 /5
“I’m 25 years old. What’s wrong with a little change?”
Ah, youth. When you have it, you can’t wait to grow up; when it’s past, you wish you had more of it. So what if there was a way to recapture it?
Caroline is a nursing student tired of being in an uncaring profession. In order to pay for her classes and to do some good in the world, she takes a home-care job out in the New Orleans swamplands. But while the dying Ben seems to hold a few secrets behind his stoke-frozen lips, the house holds even more harrowing ones.
For the most part, “The Skeleton Key” is a straightforward film. It shows a beautiful side of New Orleans, making the idea of living in a swamp almost desirable (thankfully, the DVD does not come with a sample of the various insects that also live there) while taking advantage of the richly frightening (not to mention historic) atmosphere, and leads the audience through a spooktacular tale. The film makes use of a limited soundtrack in order to amp up the frightening moments, which are spaced out evenly throughout. Thanks to some sneakily clever writing, a nice thing about the film is that, once you’ve seen it, when you re-watch it, you see hints of the twist in nearly every conversation.
What really makes this film come alive is a good choice of cast. Leading the way in this is Gena Rowlands , who played Violet Devereaux; her southern nature was well researched and comes across extremely believable. Second to her is Luke Marshall, played by Peter Sarsgaard ,. His slow, easy drawl and relaxed composure makes it easy to be lulled into a false sense of security, something you don’t want in a film billed as a “supernatural thriller”.
As far as supernatural films go, this one is rather well done. It doesn’t exactly give you any spooky thrills, the way “Woman in Black” might have, but it does present a well-done ride for the audience to enjoy. “The Skeleton Key” is an easy 3.5 out of 5; not anything overly scary, but special in its own right.