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The Skeleton Key (2005)

It can open any door.

Directed by:

Iain Softley

Rating: 4/10

Running Time: 104 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 15

Country: United States

We all know that the term “skeleton key” refers simply to a key that’s able to unlock all of the doors in a building – but it also includes the word “skeleton”, so I suppose it’s possible that somebody somewhere might find it a little bit spooky. Sadly though, the chances of anyone finding this clunky so-called horror movie even remotely frightening are on a par with the chances of Rob Schneider being named Time magazine’s Man of the Year.

It’s about a New Orleans hospice nurse (Kate Hudson) who moves into a rickety bayou house to assist a mad old bat (Gena Rowlands) with her dying husband (John Hurt giving it his best stroke-victim bit). Of course, as tends to be the case in these sorts of movies, all is not as it seems, particularly as the supposedly-paralysed Hurt seems to be remarkably agile once all the lights have been turned out. Is the cheeky old bugger just pulling everyone’s legs as part of a cunning ruse to get himself a nubile young girlie to cater for his every whim while he lies in his scratcher all day, or are more mysterious forces at work? The answer, it seems, could lie behind that permanently-locked door in the attic.

Director Iain Softley tries his best, but Ehren Kruger’s appalling screenplay just leaves him with too much of an uphill battle to fight. Kruger might have written the genuinely creepy US remake of ‘The Ring’, but going by this showing it would seem that when the story’s her own it’s another matter entirely. I lost count of the number of times Softley would make a decent job of building up a bit of tension, only for it to be ruined by an unintentionally hilarious piece of dialogue (there’s a particularly noticeable example right at the film’s climax). It’s not easy to be scared when you’re rolling in the aisles.

It's Got: Kate Hudson looking like even she thinks this whole thing’s a load of tripe.

It Needs: To have seriously re-thought its Terminator-Granny climax.

Alternatives:

Darkness, Hide and Seek

Summary

Don’t bother opening the cinema door to this pile of hoodoo hokum.

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