The Skeleton Key

The Skeleton Key

Iain Softley (2005)

15 Certificate


Our Score
A decrepit Louisiana mansion holds terrifying secrets in this flimsy yet effective slice of southern gothic horror. Kate Hudson plays a live-in nurse who's hired by elderly Gena Rowlands to look after her ailing husband (an underused John Hurt). But after discovering a hidden attic room crammed with hoodoo paraphernalia, the inquisitive carer soon realises that all is not what it seems in the foreboding house. Scripted by Ehren Kruger, writer of the US version of The Ring, it's a weakly plotted but hugely atmospheric supernatural thriller. Not a lot happens for the first two thirds, as K-PAX director Iain Softley concentrates on ambience over action. While the performances are good, with Rowlands in particular carrying off her mysterious matriarch role with creepy aplomb, it's this slow-burning mix of mood and tension that carries the picture. The payoff for all the meticulous scene-setting is a dark and exciting finale, which isn't as obvious as it initially appears.


A nurse is hired by an elderly woman to look after her bedridden husband, who is unable to speak following a stroke. Exploring their rambling New Orleans mansion, she stumbles across hoodoo paraphernalia locked away in an attic room, and begins to uncover a terrifying history associated with the house and its former servants. Horror, with Kate Hudson, John Hurt, Gena Rowlands and Peter Sarsgaard.

Cast & Crew

Caroline Kate Hudson
Violet Gena Rowlands
Ben John Hurt
Luke Peter Sarsgaard
Jill Joy Bryant
Director Iain Softley
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: UIPGuidance: May be edited for violence.Available on: DVD and Blu-rayReleased on: 29 Jul 2005