• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

The Skeleton Key

TITLE: The Skeleton Key

YEAR: 2005

GENRE: Horror

Horror films usually suffer from cliché writing. Plots are recycled over and over again, and it is common for fans to explain one film by saying “Oh, it’s just like (insert comparison film here).” It is a pleasant change of pace to run across a horror film that has some unique and clever writing, but discouraging when that writing is not carried out to a satisfying conclusion. This is especially true when the rest of the film is well crafted and the actors do an admirable job. This is the case with The Skeleton Key, a well crafted horror offering that unfortunately ends with a confusing conclusion that will bewilder more immature viewers.

Caroline Ellis (played by Kate Hudson) is a Hospice employee who is assigned to a client in the middle of the Louisiana bayou. Caroline has immediate issues with the lady of the house Violet Devereaux (Gena Rowlands) who does not want any interference between her and her husband Benjamin (John Hurt) who recently had a devastating stroke. Caroline discovers that there is more to the spooky old swamp mansion than meets the eye: two servants in the 1920’s practiced Hoodoo, a version of African-Caribbean folk magic, and the couple was lynched when it was discovered that they were hexing the white children of the house. Caroline is convinced that Benjamin’s curse was the direct result of Hoodoo, and she discovers that she may indeed be next on the curse list.

The Skeleton Key is a well done horror offering on many levels. The best part is the acting of the two main characters: Hudson fortunately goes beyond the “I’m a pretty actress” cliché and puts in an admirable performance as the compassionate nursing assistant; and Rowlands is especially good as the strange caretaker and puts on a unique performance that makes the character uniquely hers. The art direction by Drew Boughton (who also did The Expendables and Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) does an excellent job with the spooky abode and subsequent interior décor of the house as it offers great atmosphere throughout the film. My problem with this movie is the confusing ending which is not explained very well. In order to understand the dénouement multiple viewings are required (I had to watch it three times to understand what happened), and this will frustrate some more immature viewers.

The Skeleton Key was a rousing hit with a worldwide take of almost $92 million in the theaters. A sequel called Skeleton Key 2: 667 Neighbor Of The Beast has been released, but this is one of those in-name only straight to DVD follow-ups that has nothing to do with this story. Nevertheless, fans of fair quality horror films will find The Skeleton Key to be a quality viewing, but a more understandable ending would help this film elevate to a more elite status as most of the rest of the production is much higher quality that horror fans expect.

* * *

–Mark

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