Reviewed by: Lori Souder
|Featuring:||: Kate Hudson, Peter Sarsgaard, Gena Rowlands, John Hurt, Joy Bryant|
|Producer:||Clayton Townsend, Daniel Bobker, Iain Softley|
It can open any door.
A movie that starts out with a creepy old decaying house, a well-meaning heroine, and is set in the dark swampy Louisiana backwoods can’t be all bad, right?
Starring Kate Hudson (from Le Divorce and Raising Helen), this movie has been billed as a new classic, styled after some of the good old thriller films of yesterday that are exciting to watch over and over again.
Caroline (Kate Hudson) is a woman who cares for the dying as a way to atone for not spending time caring for her father at the end of his life. She takes a nursing position outside of New Orleans at an isolated mansion with an elderly couple who seem strange but harmless. Soon, Caroline is drawn to the attic of the house and its mysterious secret. She is given a key that will unlock every door in the house, a skeleton key.
As she learns more about the beliefs of the people of the area, she becomes trapped in a maze of rumors, legends, and superstition. Despite warnings, Caroline continues to explore deeper and deeper into the eerie world that seems to emanate from the hidden attic room.
The movie takes great pains to differentiate between VooDoo and HooDoo. The movie is about the belief in the magic-centered occult of HooDoo.
The moral message of this movie is good. It is, “Be careful what you believe in because it can be used to control you or even destroy you.”
There are some disturbing scenes in the movie such as Caroline performing spells. There is a particularly violent and horrible scene that involves death and children. There is also a kitchen scene with a really pathetic looking dead chicken being cut up for a meal. There is some cursing, and the f-word is used once.
Nudity is partial in a bathing scene, and in other scenes, cleavage and middrift is exposed, and some skimpy underwear is shown a couple of times as well.
I thought that this movie should have been rated R due to one incidence of horrific violence, the occult theme, and the language. Coarse language is sprinkled thoughout the movie. The movie is definitely too upsetting for some sensitive children OVER 13.
The cinematography is very unusual and is stylish in a realistic, gritty way. The unexpected camera angles that are used in each scene are just enough to make the audience a bit uncomfortable and keep them on the edge of their theater seat. You can almost feel the dampness on your hands as the characters touch the banisters. You can smell the dripping Spanish moss swaying in the night breeze. Each substance and surface experience in this movie lacks the slick, polished gloss that you would expect in a Hollywood production. Even Kate Hudson’s skin looks real, unpainted, and authentic, just like everything else in this movie.
Her acting is very engrossing in this film, and the part of Caroline is a departure from the happy, cute, and flippant parts that she sometimes plays.
I actually really liked this movie, although from reading all the critics’ reviews, I did not expect to.
The atmosphere was spooky and different and captured the essence of the New Orleans and surrounding areas. The plot was interesting, and the only thing I regretted was that the bad people’s characters were not more developed and explained. But overall, the story captured my attention and was fun to watch, and the ending was very, very good. But it required me to rethink the movie from the beginning to really understand it.
Some of the critics said that the ending made no sense, but I think they were not really paying attention.
I would recommend this movie for adult horror fans who like a good scare, but not for children or teens 16 or younger. Some sensitive viewers will be too disturbed by some of the themes, especially the occult.
There was no sex in the movie, and almost no references to sex at all. This movie was striving for a PG-13 rating so it is not too heavy-handed with the violence and language, but it definitely stepped over the line in my book.
The main theme of this movie is the occult, and if you are concerned about being influenced by it, or taking people who might be influenced by it, be warned. However, this movie does not exactly validate the occult, rather, it shows how the occult can be used to influence people in a harmful way.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/nudity: Mild
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
Year of Release—2005 / USA release: August 12, 2005 (nationwide).