Friday, July 19, 2013

The Undefined Gamer: "The Skeleton Key" Review

Can you feel the magic?

      The Skeleton Key centers around Caroline (Kate Hudson), who is
disillusioned by her day job at the local hospital. Her job involves
comforting people close to death, and when that special time comes,
the hospital's cold systematic point of mind appals Caroline.
Searching for a job, Caroline ignores her friends advice and takes a
not-so-legitimate looking job deep in the Louisiana Bayous.
      Caroline is to care for Ben, played by John Hurt, whom many of you
might recognize from the Doctor Who season 7 finale. In The Skeleton
Key, Hurt plays a wheel chair bound cripple who had just experienced a
stroke months back when he discovered a Hoodoo room in the attic.
      Ben is cared for by his wife, Deborah, who is a little crazy to
say the least. Her very nature urges Caroline to explore the house,
eventually finding the Hoodoo room (different from Voodoo, as Voodoo,
according to the movie, is a religion; while Hoodoo is supposedly
magic). Yet nothing happens.
      Caroline explores more and finds more about Hoodoo behind
Deborah's back, while John Hurt.... I mean Ben.... acts strangely.
      "How strangely?" You might ask.
      This wheel chair bound individual dragged himself onto the roof
after writing "Help Me," on his sheets. Ben, who cannot talk,
desperately tries to communicate with Caroline, to no avail, often
times making it seem like he's having a medical emergency.

She just realized she did, in fact, star in Bride Wars.
      Eventually, Caroline puts 2 and 2 together, and figures out that
Deborah's story of Ben finding the room and getting a stroke is
bullshit. Caroline desperately tries to learn Hoodoo herself, but soon
learns that everyone that she's met in the Bayou is in fact in league
with Deborah (save Ben).
      The movie has one of the best plot twists I have ever seen.
      You see, it all goes back to the original owners of the house.
Their black servants decided one night to practice Hoodoo on some
guests' children. Through Hoodoo, they where able to swap bodies with
the children. Knowing that they would be caught and lynched, the
children, imprisoned in the bodies of the black servants, where
killed. Ironically, the wealthy guests who where trying to protect
their children from these strange black servants murdered their
      The servant couple have been swapping bodies for years, developing
the crippling drug that left Ben immobile. They have many other
Hoodooers in town in cahoots with them, drawing in young people like
Caroline, switching bodies with them, then making sure that the person
in their former body would get out of their way by administering their
vile drug.
      Now, with fresher bodies, the couple could rebuy their house and
wait until it's time for the cycle to continue.
      A pretty large twist, if I do say so myself.
      What's that?
      *shuffles through papers*
      God damn it.
      Scooby Doo on Zombie Island pulled the same stunt, only replace the
body-switching with life-force draining, and the Hoodoo with a funky
Cat-god religion. Turns out the twist wasn't as original as I thought
it was.
      Nevertheless, it is superbly executed. After it happens, the
movie's tone fools you in to thinking that Caroline (the real
Caroline) will turn things around at the last minute. Hell, the friend
even comes up and could've realized that something was off with
Caroline any second.
      But nothing happens.
      The movie ends.
      The villains win.
      And Caroline (in Deborah's body) and Ben get scooted off to the
hospital, unable to speak and most likely to die, just like the people
whom Caroline used to care for.
      By the way, if you're wondering about the movie's title, no, it
has no real importance in the movie. The physical skeleton key that
Caroline is given to Deborah is simply a key that can lock all of the
doors in the house save the Hoodoo room in the attic. Sure, its a
symbol (Caroline was unable to truly unlock the secrets to Hoodoo),
but honestly, I don't think that it's enough to name the movie after

      As far as acting goes, everyone puts in a decent effort. Sure, Hurt
can't do much as he can barely speak, but you can tell that he tries.
The production values are nothing amazing, but then again, a movie
such as this one doesn't need to be. The writing, for the most part is
superb, though plotholes and "WTF" moments are present in the film.
The movie is not very satisfying, though when a film ends on a darker
note, that is often to be expected. Still, I do not regret seeing the
film, and it definitely was thought provoking and cleverly written.

The Skeleton Key gets 5 stars out of 6.


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