Directed by: Iain Softley
Premise: A young woman (Kate Hudson) who cares for an invalid man (John Hurt) in the swamps of New Orleans begins to suspect that supernatural causes are at the root of the man’s illness.
What Works: The film is sufficiently creepy and has some very well conceived sequences. The real ploy of the film is in the way it keeps the audience guessing at whether the supernatural elements are real or if they are just in the character’s heads. Screenwriter Ehren Kruger, whose other work includes The Ring and Arlington Road, has made a surprisingly mature film that, despite being PG-13, manages to capture the horror of the environment by combining the dark elements of America’s history with contemporary sensibilities.
What Doesn’t: There is a flashback sequence that is not well conceived because of lousy editing and cinematography. One of the reversals in the third act is rather predictable, but there are enough other surprises that it does not drag the film down.
Bottom Line: The Skeleton Key is a genuine American ghost story. It is a film that delivers both jump scares and creates an atmosphere that maintains a level of dread. Fans of The Ring and other ghost stories will enjoy it.
Episode: #65 (August 28, 2005)