The Skeleton Key [DVD]
After New Orleans hospice worker Caroline (Kate Hudson) answers a help wanted ad, she finds herself working as the live-in caretaker of Ben Devereaux (John Hurt), a stroke victim who has lost his ability to speak. Ben's wife, Violet (Gena Rowlands), presents Caroline with a skeleton key to open any door in the house with the exception of one, which she claims she has never been able to open. But curiosity gets the best of her, and Caroline opens the door to find a wealth of materials representing the old house's history of hoodoo, an ancient form of folk magic. She soon discovers that the house harbours a dark secret one that Violet knows more about than she first admits. Breaking her string of lighthearted romantic comedies, Kate Hudson gives a performance that proves she's more than capable of playing a feisty damsel in distress.
Ehren Kruger's (The Ring) script gives her some physically demanding scenes, while providing the audience with a steady string of effective jolts culminating in a Sixth Sense-style twist that few are likely to see coming. Louisiana's swampy, heavy atmosphere is literally a character in the film, while Gena Rowlands, at age 75, astounds once again with one of her most surprising roles.