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The Skeleton Key (2005)
Director: Iain Softley
review by Christopher Teague
When care nurse Caroline Ellis (played by Kate Hudson) quits her job at a hospice, she is quick to take on the responibilities of stroke viction Ben Devereaux (a typically great performance from John Hurt) who has been cared for by his stubborn wife Violet (played by Gena Rowlands who plays the southern belle with aplomb).
Set in New Orleans, surrounded by the essence of voodoo, Caroline discovers that something isn't quite right within the house, and it is this that terrifies Ben - the cause of the stroke. Whilst surreptitiously exploring the house, she discovers a hidden room in the attic, containing a plethora of voodoo paraphernalia.
With the help of her friend, she delves into the history of the house, the family, and discovers a gruesome lynching had taken place, which unleashed powerful spirits that will stop at nothing to survive.
So far, so - well - unexciting, and to be honest with you the trailer didn't help matters. But, I did watch it, and I'm glad I did: the film is a quiet, subtle story that neither demonises nor condones voodoo, and has little in the way of scares, but Softley still generates a decent atmosphere that drags you into the New Orleans world and surrounds you with the mystery of the religion, and like any religion it can be used for good and bad.
Kate Hudson is well-cast has the ever-helpful but inquisitive Caroline, and the script doesn't insult the viewers intelligence either, which is so often the case. Even though it was greatly influenced by The Others for it's subtlety, Hudson is no Nicole Kidman. However, you could do a lot worse than rent this out.
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