Skeleton Key, The

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +2

Content: -2 1/2

In this horror/thriller, Caroline Ellis (Kate Hudson) is a nursing student and a Hospice worker. After working with Hospice for a time, Caroline becomes discouraged by how little they care, so she goes out on her own. She takes on the position of a live-in nurse for a man (John Hurt) who apparently has suffered from a severe stroke and only has a short time to live. He and his wife (Gena Rowlands) live in an old plantation home outside of New Orleans. Soon after arriving, Caroline is given a skeleton key that she is told opens every door in the house. But after exploring, she finds a door in the attic that the key will not unlock. Her curiosity will not allow her to leave the mysterious room unexplored, so she keeps trying until she is able to get in. When she does, she discovers that the man may not be a victim of a stroke at all, but rather something much more diabolical.

The focus of The Skeleton Key is Voodoo. The main character in the film does not believe in it but gradually is drawn in. Spells and incantations are used throughout. In a SciFi Wire web site interview with Kate Hudson, she said, “I believe, especially being in New Orleans and being in the center of all of it, that it exists.” In the film, a woman talks to a man about superstition, and he says, “My family is superstitious. They are Baptist.” A positive message is hard to find in this one. Caroline is caring and tries to find help for the invalid in her care, but her true motives are not what they appear to be. Voodoo is not portrayed as good or bad, true or false, only that it exists and is used to frighten. Several instance of violence, bad language, disturbing images and brief nudity put The Skeleton Key on the not-to-see list of movies.

Preview Reviewer: Alan Boyer
Universal Studios

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Few (2) times – mild (damn 2)

Obscene Language: Few (4) times – strong (f-word 1, s-word 3)

Profanity: Several (5) times – moderate (MG 1, G 1); strong (GD 1, J 2, JC 1)

Violence: Many times – mild (women chased and threatened with death); moderate (man falls off of roof but is not seriously hurt; woman is chased by another woman with gun and shot at; woman is choked with rope by man trying to subdue her; woman is thrown over banister and down stairs, breaking both legs; strong (two people are hung by the neck and set on fire)

Sex: Few times – mild (man grabs women’s backside while dancing)

Nudity: Few times – mild (woman seen in underwear several times); moderate (woman removes top and is shown mostly from the rear and slightly from the side)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Few times – mild (older woman suggests that man is making a play for girl when they are discovered alone in her bedroom)

Drugs: Several times – mild (alcohol and tobacco use, unknown substance is put into drink of another and causes her to fall)

Other: Voodoo is used throughout the film, spells for good and bad are used, the Baptist faith is said to be just another form of superstition

Running Time: 104 minutes
Intended Audience: Young Adults and Up

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