Ehren Kruger became well known after his script for The Ring turned out to be so successful, but his career before and after The Ring has been a bit on the so-so side. So with his latest script for The Skeleton Key I went in with a bit of apprehension as I knew he could put together some creepy atmospheres, but would his pension for twist endings get in the way?
Just as in The Ring we have at the center of our story a beautiful woman, this time it is Kate Hudson, still sporting a small belly after her recent pregnancy, but I would challenge anyone to call her anything less than gorgeous in this movie and she is given the scenes to prove it.
Hudson plays the part of Caroline, a young woman working to put herself through nursing school, but after seeing the way patients are treated she decides to quit and pursue other avenues for making money. Fortunately for story purposes she happens upon a listing in the classifieds for a live-in caretaker for an elderly woman (Gena Rowlands) whose husband has recently suffered a stroke. The only set back to the whole deal is that the house she must live in resides in the darkest depths of the Louisiana swamp land and as her first trip to the house indicates this isn’t exactly the most traditional of neighborhoods.
Kruger’s script and Iain Softley’s direction paints a creepy picture of this land that in and of itself is already creepy, but combined with the innocence of Hudson’s character and the creepy factor Rowlands supplies the necessary elements are in place for a good ol’ scary flick, but this one never really hits scary, and only creepy a couple of times.
As Caroline gets acquainted with her new surroundings she notices a few oddities such as a locked door in the attic, the fact there are no mirrors in the house and the vegetative husband’s attempt to try and communicate with her. Needless to say, there are enough clues supplied along the way to rouse suspicion and as in any other scary movie Caroline is not about to just leave, like the rest of us would, she would much rather investigate, and considering the lack of forensic equipment, Hoodoo charms and C.S.I. agents she just isn’t cut out for this mystery as it twists and turns itself into oblivion.
The Hollywood vice as of late seems to be the fallback on the twist ending and while this twist ending has some potential there are several other directions they could have gone that would have certainly made this film far better, but they made their decision and while it is bold it just doesn’t work well enough to be a pay off.
Hudson turns in a good performance as the girl audiences fell in love with in Almost Famous is all grown up and as her first role in a scary flick I would say she did just fine. Rowlands is creepy enough and even Peter Sarsgaard does what he can with a limited role that also demands a couple of ridiculous moments towards the end.
Overall The Skeleton Key is a “C” effort and not worth your hard earned money at the box-office. You would be best off waiting for DVD and enjoying this one at home, and if you can, wait for a rainy night… rain is one thing not in demand with this movie and it just might make for good atmosphere.