PG-13 Horror That Doesn’t Suck: “The Skeleton Key” (2005)

Caroline Ellis (Kate Hudson), gets a job caring for Ben Devereaux, an elderly man recently suffering from a stoke that he had in the attic of his home. His wife Violet (Gena Rowlands) is hesitant about hiring Caroline. Insisting she won’t “understand the house”. However, their estate lawyer Luke (Peter Sarsgaard), convinces her she won’t find anyone better. As Caroline begins to care for Ben, she starts to discover more secrets about the house. But the more she discovers, the more she finds herself and the Devereauxs in danger. Can Caroline save herself and the elderly couple from falling victim to the house’s haunting past?

While it is basically known that great PG13 horror is a rarity, The Skeleton Key is one that I’m my opinion succeeds on every level. Granted it does have its occasional lame jump scares, but in the long run its the build up and atmosphere that gives the film its suspense. As the story progresses, the viewer becomes more and more engaged in the mystery of the house till the film’s shocking ending. I remember when I saw this in theaters and I was tensed through the entire last act. And by the end of the movie my mind was blown. It also has amazing performances by Kate Hudson (who really should do more horror/thrillers) and Gena Rowlands.

The Skeleton Key is one PG13 horror film that severely separates itself from the shitty ones. It provides everything a person wants from a horror film, and quite honestly it fits perfectly. I can’t see it being much different if it were R rated other than more opportunities to drop the F bomb.

–Cody Landman