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00618 - Scary Rentals

MovieHype00618 - Scary Rentals


What’s good: The acting. Even (especially?) Kate Hudson, whom I generally loathe. Plus, her hair looks fantastic. The filming is often inventive (read: camera angles) as well; quite stylish. And the old Southern Manor is always a fun setting.

What’s bad: Sometimes the filmmaking is quite lazy, but this may not bother anyone not familiar with logistics. They try too hard to put Kate in ”black” situations, and the creepy intensity falls away a bit until the end.

Suspension of Disbelief: Uh, we’re talking a scary film here, and not just a slasher flick. Definitely an 8.5.

Genre Grade: I think the scary movie genre has advanced enough that we need to subdivide it out. I call SKELETON KEY PG-13 scary. Back in the day Hitchcock was the Master, as all films were PG, but in modern times, I think THE RING offered the biggest chills without any blood/gore. By that standard I give THE SKELETON KEY a B-

Objectionable Material: There’s no gore here or language, and really very little violence. You do get to see one fourth of Kate Hudson’s left breast, but the only objectionable part to that is that there should have been a lot more. Women might object that Kate’s hair always looks fantastic even in the humidity of the Louisiana rainy season.

Who can handle it? I would think teenage girl (13) and up is fine. There’s nothing to keep you awake nights here.

Amazing Ending? I think you might be able to figure out where SKELETON KEY is going, but that is by no means a criticism. After the jaw-droppingly stupid ending of last year’s touted SAW, this ending looks like a masterpiece.

Pantheon Percentile: I’m of the opinion that very few scary films truly stand the test of time. However, I can see girls watching this at a slumber party years from now (Or at least, I’d like to see them doing that.) 50.

A horror film tries to do three things; come across both fun and creepy, deliver the scares, and these days, have a whale of an ending. Good acting rarely enters into it. THE SKELETON KEY is definitely creepy, has some pretty good jumps, and the ending…I’ll get to that in a second. Surprisingly, it is the acting that is several notches above what you’d expect.

Kate Hudson plays Caroline, a hospice-care nurse with Daddy issues. She gets a job caring for Ben (William Hurt), and old man who is dying after a stroke. Violet (Gena Rowlands) is quite upset that the love of her life is going to die soon.

SKELETON KEY introduces us to the world of hoodoo (not to be confused with voodoo), and plays on our knowledge of what a haunted house film might look like. The story more-or-less adds up, once it’s over and you think it through, and though at times things are a bit forced, there are some fantastic performances here, and some good creepy scares. As for that ending (and other particulars), see the all new expanded side panel. One other note: for all its trifling nature, SKELETON KEY does ask a very good question, dealing with the power of evil that is only powerful if it is believed. I would love a more ambitious project to tackle this conundrum.


What’s good: Ben Kingsley is in top form. Eckhart has some good intensity too. The creepy screenplay will have you wondering what’s going on. The desert locales are a nice change of pace, too.

What’s bad: It’s hard to believe a serial killer of this magnitude would occupy just three FBI agents (although I suppose we should just let that go). Carrie Ann Moss continues her quest to not impress me in films, and the music can be at times jarring.

Suspension of Disbelief: If you believe in Remote Viewing, I suppose a 6. Otherwise a 9.

Genre Grade: Is “Psychological Serial Killer” a genre? I think I just invented it. If SILENCE OF THE LAMBS was an A+ and SE7EN an A, SUSPECT ZERO would be a B.

Objectionable Material: One of the “calling cards” the killer employs is to slice the eyelid off his victims. There is also several scenes of women or children in peril, and a fair amount of dead bodies. SUSPECT ZERO is definitely an R.

Who can handle it? Could you handle LAMBS or SE7EN? Use that as your barometer.

Amazing Ending? It’s fairly important that a psychological thriller get the ending right, so it doesn’t devolve into a mere chase. ZERO doesn’t pack on the adrenaline, but in quiet way, if you think about it, it’s pretty nifty.

Pantheon Percentile: You could definitely watch this more than once. 70.

A variation on the “serial killer” genre, SUSPECT ZERO has designs on being the next SE7EN. It doesn’t quite hit that mark, but don’t let that keep you way. SUSPECT ZERO offers some good thrills and “thinking” moments, plenty of suspense and “what’s going on?” theatrics, and excellent performances from the two leads.

The story involves Aaron Eckhart (one of my favorite actors), as a disgraced FBI agent sent down the minors in New Mexico. Ben Kingsley is the seriously disturbed individual trying to communicate with Eckhart. Kingsley continues his quest to move up from one of the “top five” actors alive to the king of the mountain, and if Anthony isn’t careful he may get there.

SUSPECT ZERO doesn’t exactly cover any new ground, but it does have a few twists on an old idea. What is the nature of true evil, and what should our reaction be to it? Are people “chosen” to fight crime, a la Batman or something? SUSPECT ZERO at least attempts a stab and these and other questions, and doesn’t do a bad job.



I’m not going to take the time to rank these, but will limit my comments to: you cannot go wrong. YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN is arguably the funniest movie in history, and is at least top five. You cannot live your life without seeing this film, if only for the immortal Marty Feldman as Igor, the “Sweet Mysteries of Life” scene, and of course “Putting on the Ritz.” I could write more about it, but what’s the point? If you’re looking for a funny film in the Halloween tradition, there simply is no higher recommendation than YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN. A virtually perfect film.

Much less well known but also lots of fun is CLUE. Based on the board game and yes, featuring Colonel Mustard, Mrs. Peacock, Professor Plum and all the rest. You need to see it for the smarmy funny portrayals of the characters (Madeline Khan and Tim Curry, standouts), the hilarious way the movie mimics the board game, and of course, the many different endings. Highly recommended for a large group.

1 comment:

Casey said...

Of course, it is just in this past week that I can pick Kate Hudson out of a line up (I found out who her mom is and see the marked resmeblance) and that makes Skeleton Key even more enjoyable. I find it odd that I found this horror film "enjoyable" but that is the emotion elicited at the end of the movie. I agree - it will be a slumber party movie for years to come...