“The Skeleton Key” is a Vast Cut Above its Early 2000’s PG-13 Horror Ilk and Deserves its Long Overdue Due

If The Skeleton Key can take any positive affirmation from me during the following review it is this:  Out of all of the watered-down PG-13 teenie-bopper horror flicks that have surfaced in theaters over the last twenty years, this movie is the most surprising… not only because it wasn’t the mess I was expecting it to be, but it’s actually got some pretty good twists and a very, very satisfying ending that suddenly makes everything that didn’t make sense, make sense.  The Skeleton Key, for me at least, is one of the most surprising and overlooked finds I’ve come across this Halloween season.

Now, that’s not saying that this movie is perfect, but it is enjoyable and a perfectly fine way to spend and evening.  It’s so nice to finally see a scary movie slapped with a PG-13 rating actually be good… and scary for that matter.  It’s a rare thing and we should cherish it in this world where horror movies aimed at teens are seemingly free of consequence and stuffed with shaky-cam rock video editing.

In The Skeleton Key, Kate Hudson plays a Hospice nurse who, after becoming disgusted with with the nursing home where she works, takes a job caring for an elderly stroke victim in a decrepit old mansion in the middle of the Louisiana swamp with his blustery wife.  However, this young nurse soon  finds herself in the middle of a whirlwind of strange events that lead her to believe that her patient might be in danger… but how far will she go to save him?

I will say that for what this movie does lack in storytelling and general logic is made up for in its spooky setting and masterful suspenseful direction.  This is an A-list cast doing a B movie, but the result is sinfully enjoyable.  For goodness sake… John Hurt is a palatable presence and all he does is sit there! The script is tight and full of nice twists and turns and you will keep guessing until the very end.

What’s great is that The Skeleton Key even throws in what looks like a clichéd and boorish climax to throw you off of what is really going on.

The ending is worth suspending belief over.  That much is certain.  There are some strong performances, a creepy vibe, and a very well written story to boot.  The Skeleton Key may not be a perfect movie, but it’s a diamond in the rough as far as horror movies go.

There’s also the matter of an amusing similarity to another, much more famous horror movie that I can’t say without spoiling this one, but you will recognize it when you see it. I am in no way implying there was a rip-off involved, so please put away your torches and pitchforks, but the similar themes are entertaining in hindsight.

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Written by Jason Gaston

Father, teacher, writer, photographer, artist, actor, male model, and inventor of the semicolon.

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