Film / The Skeleton Key

2005 horror movie, starring Kate Hudson as a hospice worker who takes a job caring for an invalid at an old house in New Orleans. Things rapidly go downhill as the old man's wife behaves strangely, a locked room in the attic contains evidence of hoodoo rituals, and she finds the poor guy desperately wants to escape...


This film provides examples of:

  • Agent Scully: Caroline is new to the area in which she takes her job as caretaker, and the lore and traditions of the region strike her both as strange and silly... At least, at first. As time goes on and she is exposed to things she has trouble rationalizing, she starts to believe and begins playing by the rules of Hoodoo... Which was actually the antagonists' hope, as it results in the loss of her very useful Anti-Magic quality.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Hoodoo is a real folk practice, albeit not as sinister as the film tries to make it (and contrary to what Jill implies in her Info Dump, most of it's adherents are Protestant Christians - in other words, God has everything to do with it).
  • And I Must Scream: A nasty potion is used repeatedly, that leaves victims with all the effects of a stroke.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Cecile ends up possessing Caroline, leaving her stuck in Violet's crippled, mute body right alongside Ben (actually Luke, with the same thing done to him previously by Justify).
  • Black Best Friend: Caroline's, who knows about Voodoo but doesn't practice it. Possibly may have noticed "Caroline" speaking like an old lady at the end.
  • Body Surf: Cecile and Justify's method of immortality.
  • Brother-Sister Incest (maybe): Cecile and Justify are a married couple who possessed the bodies of a brother and sister. When said siblings were children.
  • Equivalent Exchange: Sometime sacrifice is more like... an exchange.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: A lifetime of body surfing hasn't put a damper on Cecile and Justify's marriage.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Being stuck in a body old and decrepit, unable to talk, helped by two "caring" people who at least will put you out of your misery soon.
    • Don't forget the servants switching bodies with you, then having your parents unwittingly lynch you and burn you alive — as young children.
  • Hugh Mann: Happens at the end. Also the lawyer, now taken over, has to learn "lawayerism For Dummies" to pass over even for his job. That hoodoo bodysnatching has some drawbacks... but like they said, beggars can't be choosers.
  • Hollywood Voodoo: Somewhat averted, as the movie makes the distinction that the goings on are the result of Hoodoo, not Voodoo. Still lots of Black Magic and such to go around, though.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted. Cecile and Justify take over the bodies of little Martin and Grace, implicitly killing them in the process.