Wednesday, August 10, 2016

How to Lose A Soul in 10 Days, Or Thoughts on Kate Hudson in The Skeleton Key

If it were up to me, every supernatural movie would be set in New Orleans, the most gothic city in America.  The history and architecture lends itself to all sorts of vampires, werewolves, witches, and backwoods voodoo cults, as depicted in an entire sub-genre of books, movies and TV shows like American Horror Story: Coven.  In The Skeleton Key (2005), a young girl takes a job in an isolated and crumbling southern plantation manor with no mirrors deep in the swamp, much like the American equivalent of The Innocents (1961) or The Turn of The Screw (2009).
Kate Hudson stars as Caroline Ellis, a hospice nursing student, caring for patients during their last moments and comfortable with death, as it is literally her job.  She moves into the aforementioned crumbling southern manor to care for the legendary John Hurt, who you know as
Caligula in I, Claudius (1976), The Elephant Man (1980), Kane from Alien (1979), and an IMDb page with over 200 credits that goes back to 1962.  He stars as paralyzed stroke victim Benjamin Devereaux in a wordless performance communicated through eyes and twisted expressions.  Caroline suspects elder abuse, and of course discovers something far darker.
The titular skeleton key opens every door in the house, including a secret room in the attic well stocked with voodoo dolls and chicken bones.  Gena Rowlands stars as feisty and opinionated southern matron Violet Devereaux, the devoted wife of Benjamin. Caroline uncovers a mystery that extends over generations, all based on the history of the house and two servants who were lynched, Mama Cecile and Papa Justify.  There’s also a handsome attorney (isn’t there always); Peter Sarsgaard portrays Luke Marshall, who’s closer to Caroline’s age and her only link to the outside world.
A quiet and sensitive horror thriller that requires patience and builds over time, The Skeleton Key has a clever twist that dovetails nicely with The Innocents (1961).  You won’t be disappointed.  Directed with precision and the minimum of jump scares by Iain Softley of Backbeat (1994), Hackers (1995) and K-PAX (2001).


my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4-volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hr diner with the best pie in town…