DVD Review: The Skeleton Key
Release Date: November 15, 2005
· Iain Softley
· Kate Hudson
· Gena Rowlands
· Peter Sarsgaard
· John Hurt
· Joy Bryant
· Official Site
· Cinema Spider - The Skeleton Key
by Scott Juba
Published: November 21, 2005
There’s nothing like a little voodoo and hoodoo to scare up some thrills amongst audiences, and “The Skeleton Key” offers more than a few spine-tingling moments. Set in Louisiana’s bayou, “The Skeleton Key” stars Kate Hudson as Caroline Ellis, an in-home caretaker who moves in with an elderly woman (Rowlands) whose husband just had a stroke and is near death. Caroline suspects, however, that the wife put a deadly spell on her husband and that she isn’t through with her wicked curses yet.
A highly imaginative thriller with a killer twist of an ending, “The Skeleton Key” ensnares viewers in a web of intrigue and suspense that never relents until the film’s unsettling and unexpected conclusion. Director Iain Softley and screenwriter Ehren Kruger allow the story to unfold at just the right pace, teasing the audience with enough clues to lead them in the right direction without ever compromising the surprise at the end.
On-screen, Hudson’s youth and intelligence collides with Rowlands’ wit and experience, producing several wonderfully acted scenes that expose the underlying tension between their characters. In addition, Peter Sarsgaard delivers a mysterious performance as Luke, the family lawyer, that subtly hints at Luke’s hidden motivations.
Unfortunately, the disc’s bonus features don’t even come close to matching the quality of the film. The segment on voodoo and hoodoo is disappointingly dull, and the making-of featurette contains no depth. It restates the obvious and simply gives the cast the opportunity to praise Softley.
The deleted scenes are watchable, but only people who are interested in listening to how a director decides what scenes are necessary and which are not will likely find them worthwhile. Quite simply, if the scenes were pivotal to the story and merited being seen, they would have made the movie’s final cut.
Gena Rowlands’ love-spell featurette explaining how a ritual of writing names on a Popsicle stick and putting the stick in a jar with honey and sugar supposedly causes people to fall in love makes a cute addition to the DVD. However, its lighthearted nature doesn’t fit in with the movie’s darker themes and seems a bit trivial.
Kate Hudson’s real-life ghost story probably ranks as the best of the featurettes. Yet, even it is not nearly as spooky or unnerving as one would hope and leaves viewers expecting more.
In addition to their flimsy content, the short length of many of the featurettes also disappoints. Considering that several of them don’t last longer than a few minutes, the extensive list of bonus material doesn’t seem nearly as impressive when you watch it as it does in the advertisements.
While the movie itself makes this DVD a worthwhile purchase, save yourself some time and skip the bonus features.