The Skeleton Key

August 12th, 2005


The Skeleton Key

No valid json found

The Skeleton KeyThe Skeleton KeyOliver Hudson and Erinn Bartlett at event of The Skeleton KeyThe Skeleton KeyThe Skeleton KeyDavid Moscow at event of The Skeleton Key

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

Release Year: 2005

Rating: 6.4/10 (43,693 voted)

Critic's Score: 47/100

Director: Iain Softley

Stars: Kate Hudson, Peter Sarsgaard, Joy Bryant

A young woman helping care for an invalid in New Orleans finds herself caught in the middle of morbid going-ons centered around a group of Hoodoo practitioners. (Hoodoo is not Voodoo, it's of a different culture. Voodoo is Haitian while Hoodoo is an old African American magic that just like Voodoo only works if you believe in it.)

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 - Hallie (as Fahnlohnee Harris)
Marion Zinser - Bayou Woman
Deneen Tyler - Desk Nurse
Ann Dalrymple - C.N.A.
Trula M. Marcus - Nurse Trula (as Trula Marcus)
Tonya Staten - Nurse Audrey
Thomas Uskali - Robertson Thorpe (as Tom Uskali)
Jen Apgar - Madeleine Thorpe
Forrest Landis - Martin Thorpe

Taglines: Fearing Is Believing


Official Website: UIP [Brazil] | UIP [Spain] |

Release Date: 12 August 2005

Filming Locations: Bayou Gauche, Louisiana, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $43,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: £769,698 (UK) (31 July 2005) (354 Screens)

Gross: $47,806,295 (USA) (23 October 2005)

Technical Specs


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.

Continuity: When Caroline is giving Ben his second bath she soaks the sponge with soap and water. A second later when she goes to get the mirror her hand is completely dry.

[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...

User Review

They Do that Hoodoo that they Do, Relatively Well

Rating: 7/10

Horror movies have become a dime a dozen in the past few years. The watchable ones seem to fall into two categories of late: misguided psychological thrillers headlined by a consummate actress (witness Naomi Watts in "The Ring 2" or Jennifer Connelly in "Dark Water") or over the top slasher/gore-fests with serious kitsch value (witness Romero's enjoyable zombie flick "Land of the Dead" or Rob Zombie's sadistic "Devil's Rejects"). All of the rest have pretty much been unbearable cliché-ridden hack jobs ("White Noise," "Darkness Falls," etc...)

Oddly enough, "The Skeleton Key" doesn't fall into any of these categories and it comes across as a breath of fresh air, an old-fashioned throwback to the traditional Gothic mystery thriller, where a pretty female outsider (Kate Hudson acquitting herself rather nicely here as the hospice nurse traveling deep into the Bayou to care for an apparent stroke victim) moves into a big old house/castle that just might be haunted. The director and screenwriter start things slowly, and do a nice job of creating a realistic setting before letting all the mumbo-jumbo slowly and effectively creep in. Gena Rowlands and John Hurt (immobile and mute for most of the film) are fairly good in their respective roles as the married couple with more than just skeletons in their closets. We've seen this stuff all before, but it's done fairly well here with no sense of flash or pretensions, and as silly (and potentially offensive) as all this Hoodoo in the Bayou stuff is, the audience is treated to a twist ending that makes perfect sense in the context we have been given. This isn't a twist ending for twisting sake, but a fitting conclusion to the story.

"The Skeleton Key" tries to remind people of classics like "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Others." It may not ultimately hold a candle to those films, but it's a very entertaining way to spend a few hours.


Comments are closed.