It's a testament to the screen charisma of Kate Hudson that The Skeleton Key is half-way watchable. If it wasn't for her, then this tale of a haunted old Deep South house and the power of Hoodoo (not voodoo) would be almost unbearably dull. Nursing John Hurt's stroke victim under the stern glare of Gena Rowlands, she commits to a movie that doesn't really deserve the effort.
The Skeleton Key wants to be Angelheart blended with The Ring (a modest ambition), but it lacks the sultry atmosphere of the former or the efficient scare scenes of the latter. There are plenty of attempts to make you jump - lots of "it's behind you!" moments and LOUD BANGS - but nothing that gets under the skin.
"DIRECTOR IAIN SOFTLEY DOESN'T APPEAR TO HAVE FAITH"
Hudson is surprisingly effective, given her films so far have suggested she's best suited to light, comedic material. But director Iain Softley doesn't appear to have faith in her or the story as he keeps his camera restless, quick and superficial: all slo-mo and fast forwards when it needs to creep and brood.
Just when you're falling asleep in your popcorn, the action intensifies for an overwrought but fairly entertaining last 20 minutes, with Rowlands chewing the scenery and Peter Sarsgaard offering solid support. But still only die-hard Hudson fans or desperate horror junkies will find The Skeleton Key worth unlocking.