If spoilers follow, they’re slight.
Skeleton Key: Kate Hudson acts the part of a New Jersey college
student who, mourning the loss of her father, shifts her work to hospice
care, easing the dying to the end. Naturally, she lands a gig in a
Bayou mansion (is this the same place Forrest Gump was filmed?) many miles from
the closest city, a shadowy and unkempt house where much mystery and mayhem ensues,
tensions build, and the spirited plot (in four words: need more brick dust)
It’s fresh enough and solid enough that I don’t want to flatten it out
too much here. I’d say it’s styled in the tradition of Twilight Zone;
the double entendre on skeleton key is something like Rod Serling would’ve
devised (or so I was reminded, not that I’m really not very well studied in this
kind of thing). And its PG-13 rating is just about right considering that it’s
just a little bit sexy, a little bit surprising, and a little bit bizarre.
On the verge of the stuff of nightmares, especially given John Hurt’s
stroke-stricken character, Ben Devereaux, who coughs, gasps, and makes wide eyes
throughout his drawn out victimization. And yes, it also includes to at
least one painfully unoriginal one-liner; a groaner I was disappointed that the
writers/directors/producers didn’t have enough good sense to trim. Formula:
high-suspense moment when imperiled character breaks in with ridiculously
obvious statement; everyone laughs in relief (although there’s really nothing
much funny about what’s happening).
And so I recommend the movie with the caveat that it’s a mid-grade
pop-suspense success and also something of a puzzler–one you, if you’re
like me (which you might not be), will think over for a few minutes, seriously
expecting unforgivable gaps in the story. But I was satisfied that the
resolution was much less detectable than the same in The Sixth Sense,
which is to say that if you know how it’s going to turn out, my take on
on Skeleton Key slides all the way from decent down to why
bother. I’m stopping now before I’ve said too much.