Few actors are more bland, privileged, and forgettable than Kate Hudson. This is why going to see Skeleton Key in 2005 expectations were quite low. While looking for there to be absolutely nothing to this film, one can’t help but be pleasantly surprised by its quality and the fact that being twelve years old it still holds up.
Outside of the halting inept Hudson, the film boasts genuinely good actors (John Hurt, Gena Rowlands, and Peter Sarsgaard) who acquit themselves well making the story swirling around the deadpan Hudson compelling despite its lead.
There are few horror films managing to do hoodoo or voodoo well (yes, they are different). Most movies use the folk magic as mere premise doing a great job of getting most of it entirely wrong as it’s twisted in service of the writer or director’s want. Often this mean fetishizing POC turning them into one-dimensional stereotypes or wholly appropriating the culture. Skeleton Key does both.
The saving throw for this film comes in the form of having Hudson’s character fail. This is deeply satisfying and gives the audience a glimmer of redemption or satisfaction. I don’t think it’s enough to overcome the fetishizing but it’s close. There is enough of a twist in this film to allow it to break away from its faux Southern Gothic milieu.
Not a good flick yet certainly entertaining enough.