| Staring Kate Hudson, Gena Rowlands, John Hurt and Directed by Iain Softley
Is it live, or is it Memorex? Whoops! Is this film
simply an eerie mystery? Is the often referred to
“Hoodoo” magic real or psychosomatic? “The Skeleton
Key” will keep a lot of film fans trying to decide
through most of the movie.
Kate Hudson portrays Caroline, a hospice worker. After
her father's death she moved, VW Beetle and all, from
New Jersey to New Orleans. Fed up with the competent,
but uncaring, place she works Caroline takes a new job
at a thirty room mansion. The place sits so far out in
the bayous that the sinks need a third faucet to pipe
Here she will take care Ben (John Hurt), a paralyzed
stroke victim. Ben's wife, Violet (Gena Rowlands)
fusses that Caroline will not understand them, or the
house . She gives the girl the Skeleton Key that will
unlock every room in the mansion except where the
lynched servants lived eighty years ago. Nobody's been
through that door since. Don't go in that room, child.
No, of course not. Is Rowlands' Violet a devoted
wife, or up to something sinister?
Has Ben been mistreated? Is he being medicated, or
drugged? If he believes in it, can hoodoo have done
this to him. John Hurt gives a frightening performance
in a part, that with another actor and director, might
have been a throwaway.
Director Iain Softley leads the excellent production
crew that crafted “The Skeleton Key.” The sets feel
real both in the creaky old mansion and the marshy
grounds around it. The camera work uses many
different angles and traveling views. These, and many
other aspects of the production, could have been
overblown. overdone, and very over the top. Thankfully
this is not the case.
As I said, this is a finely crafted film. The cast
gives fine performances. Will you like it? That's hard
to tell. Let me put it this way. I believe “The
Skeleton Key” is a film Rod Serling could love.
By Erwin K. Roberts