The Skeleton Key (2005)

(On TV, November 2015) Sometimes, all that’s needed to save a film from pointlessness is a good ending.  The Skeleton Key is not, to be fair, an entire bad film.  It’s just that, for all of the magnificent bayou atmosphere of a story that largely takes place on an old plantation, it feels intensely formulaic for most of its duration.  So a young nurse (Kate Hudson, more unremarkable than sympathetic) moves in and discovers a pattern of abuse.  So she finds out about ancient hoodoo legends and digs deeper.  So she earns the enmity of the house’s matriarch.  It all points to a well-worn kind of ending… but then that’s not what happens.  What happens is, actually, kind of interesting.  Mean, but far more interesting than what one would expect from the rest of the film.  It doesn’t necessarily catapult The Skeleton Key into a magically better kind of film but it does rescue it from instant forgetfulness.  It’s nothing much, but at least it’s a little bit more than expected.

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