The Skeleton Key

Bomb Rating: 

This film had about the same effect on me as the pre-show pitch from a so-called "ghost hunter" inviting me to a $79.95 event that he swore would "change my life forever" (it was a sneak preview where some group of wackos was allowed to get in front of the screen and annoy the audience a bit before the movie started). Consequently, I can actually say something good about "The Skeleton Key": Given that is entailed only a nine-dollar flush of resources, I definitely felt like I had experienced the lesser of two evils here.

Apparently, somebody explains to Caroline Ellis (Kate Hudson) the difference between hoodoo and voodoo, but I don't remember hearing it, which led to a lot of confusion on my part in terms of understanding what the hell was going on. Caroline leaves her job at a hospice to work as an independent caregiver for Ben Devereaux (John Hurt), who's had a stroke. His wife, Violet (Gena Rowlands), is fine, but resents Caroline's presence. According to the Devereaux's lawyer, Luke (Peter Sarsgaard), Violet is just having a hard time dealing with the fact that the love of her life doesn't have long to live. All this movie has is its end, and all I can say without ruining it is that Caroline begins to believe that Ben isn't a stroke victim, but is actually under a spell cast on him by Violet.

This is one of those classic examples of experienced actors slumming in a film that's way below them with filmmakers who excel in making crap. Director Iain Softley's last film was "K-Pax," a resume item that speaks for itself. As I watched Softley's camera closely track Kate Hudson running around braless in a tight shirt, I recalled that he was also responsible for "Hackers" in which he did the same thing with Angelina Jolie. I'm not saying I blame the guy, but that does seem to be his main skill. If you need another reason to stay away, you should know that "The Skeleton Key" is written by Ehren Kruger, who has written masterpieces like "The Ring 2," "Reindeer Games" and "Arlington Road."

Frankly, I sometimes marvel at how much of my job can be accomplished by simply listing filmmakers' resumes.

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