Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Skeleton Key

The Skeleton Key (2005)
Director: Iain Softley
Starrting: Kate Hudson (Caroline Ellis), Gena Rowlands (Violet Devereaux), John Hurt (Ben Devereaux), Peter Sarsgaard (Luke Marshall), Joy Bryant (Jill), Maxine Barnett (Mama Cecilia)

One of the classic horror situation, especially in Hollywood films, is an innocent victim, especially, a girl, who stumbles upon an old secret and unwittingly unleashes the horror within. After several gruesome deaths, as the film ends, the evil is contained and the protagonists survive to tell the tale.
'The Skeleton Key' starts with these same premises. But as the film progresses, there's an original twist that will make you gap with surprise.
Caroline is a hospice nurse with a sense of duty, as her father died without giving her a chance to care for him. So when she witnesses the business-like attitude towards the dead at the hospital where she works, she quits the job and hunts for a new one.
Following a newspaper ad, she visits an elderly couple in a big house at the outskirts of New Orleans (Remember, the place famous for all those spooky happenings!), where the landlady warns that a young girl like Caroline would not understand the big mansion at all. A classic horror situation, especially when our heroine is too curious to rest the matter of the house and why the old man and the lady of the house is behaving so strangely, and why there is no mirror in the house. She does not believe in ghosts and desperately wants to cure Ben, who apparently suffered attacks on a particular room.
Caroline investigates and we are shown some haunted images. Soon, we are told the story of a black couple in the last century who were lynched to death for practising hoodoo, a spiritual form of voodoo. But, apparently, Papa Justify and Mama Cecile are in no mood to leave the house, and yes, they are not dead.
This is the secret our heroine does not know.
The twist is awesome, if nothing else, for the simple fact that the screenplay does not help the heroine survive her ordeal. Otherwise, just an okay horror fare. But better than all those computer-generated fears.
Rating **1/2 out of *****
Dibyajyoti Sarma

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