Mixed or average reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 32
  2. Negative: 5 out of 32
Watch On
  1. For anyone zombified by creaky thriller clichés, Skeleton is a fine little shot in the head.
  2. An elegantly mounted ghost story that's steeped plenty of dank Louisiana atmosphere.
  3. Tightly plotted and suspenseful enough to keep you guessing until the satisfying, unexpected end, which is worth suspending disbelief for. After all, as they point out in the movie, "It doesn't work if you don't believe it."
  4. 70
    The appeal of The Skeleton Key lies not in its plot but in its attention to detail, and the way director Iain Softley (still on probation for "K-PAX," but nevertheless the guy who did "Backbeat") luxuriates in the deeply textured sights and sounds of Louisiana.
  5. It's far from strikingly original, but it's well-acted, skillfully plotted and moderately chilling, and it's something slightly different in the haunted-house genre.
  6. 63
    Delivers its share of cheap scares but never unlocks the door to the creepiness that would have made this is memorable movie-going experience.
  7. 63
    One of those movies that explains too much while it is explaining too little, and leaves us with a surprise at the end that makes more sense the less we think about it. But the movie's mastery of technique makes up for a lot.
  8. Reviewed by: Jessica Reaves
    For all its dark, Gothic intentions and supernatural twists, it lacks the emotional and intellectual punch of similarly themed films, most notably Alejandro Amenábar's "The Others."
  9. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    Director Iain Softley employs intriguing camera angles to heighten some of the suspense. It's too bad the movie goes over the top and falls apart in the last third.
  10. I didn't believe most of what I saw until the last 20 minutes, and whaddaya know? This thriller finally cast the spell it had been trying to achieve and lifted itself above the pack of late-summer, clean-out-the-studio-attic releases.
  11. Stylishly spooky and featuring a hammy, cigarette-sucking performance from Gena Rowlands.
  12. The soundtrack is guaranteed to send chills where they'll be most effective, and the ultimate resolution is a real shocker. While it doesn't explain away everything that's happened, it comes deliciously close.
  13. One of the most enjoyably inane movies of the season, this faux Southern Gothic offers an embarrassment of geek pleasures.
  14. 60
    No director yet has found the best use for Hudson, the role that will tap those terrifying and thrilling reserves that are just lying in wait. But Softley comes closer than anybody has.
  15. Reviewed by: Robert Koehler
    Stirring up a humid Gothic mood and amassing a gifted roster of actors, The Skeleton Key is unable to ward off the nasty spirits of formula screenwriting.
  16. Ultimately, the filmmakers build toward a reasonably satisfying "Twilight Zone" climax, only they crawl toward the ho-hum ending; the movie appears to have been written and edited in a swamp too.
  17. 50
    The Skeleton Key takes its time making a slow, creeping ascent, but once it starts plummeting downward, Softley keeps things moving at a furious pace, and both Hudson and Rowlands enjoy surrendering themselves to the grandiloquent lunacy of it all.
  18. Reviewed by: Jen Chaney
    It's all ultimately made watchable by the exceptional cast ... and a story that, despite some unsavory racial undertones, holds the audience's interest even when it veers toward the downright silly.
  19. 50
    Neither scary nor thrilling, although it's reasonably entertaining despite an abundance of haunted-house clichés, the usual inexplicable scary-movie behavior and an almost-naked John Hurt.
  20. 50
    The surprise ending is neatly done, but the characters are so thin that waiting around for it is no fun whatsoever.
  21. 50
    Isn’t exactly dull, but it isn’t scary either.
  22. 50
    It has the wild, rancid atmosphere of a garbage bag that a raccoon has ripped open.
  23. The only thing to do, then, is settle back and appreciate Hudson's no-nonsense performance, an appealingly mature turn that makes you hope she has turned her back on second-rate romantic fluff. (Whether second-rate horror represents actual improvement is another matter.)
  24. After getting off to a decent, somewhat muted start, Skeleton Key just gets sillier and sillier and sillier until it's yet another one of those stupid, noisy thrillers where everyone's running around in a house, yelling and falling down, and you're mostly wondering why nobody bothered to call the cops.
  25. A fine, solid cast and fully exploited settings cannot make up for the by-the-numbers screenplay, which is filled with all-too-convenient plot points.
  26. Reviewed by: Joanne Kaufman
    A very goofy movie that makes sense only to the screenwriter and his next of kin.
  27. 40
    Hokey, slow-moving thriller.
  28. 38
    Strictly summer schlock.
  29. 30
    Creaky in its mechanics and numbingly protracted, this is basement B horror that fancies itself a prestige chiller.
  30. A well-intentioned horror film that is weighted down by stellar cast members who for the most part act as if they don't want to be there.
  31. 20
    Wholly devoid of suspense or chills, The Skeleton Key simply bides its time until its big final plot twist, but the filmmakers don't seem to realize that a second-rate twist can't redeem a third-rate fright flick.
  32. A top-notch cast was gathered and then wasted in this atmospheric but prosaic hoodoo spooker.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 130 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 42
  2. Negative: 9 out of 42
  1. DezM.
    Apr 8, 2006
    Suspenseful movie and pretty good acting, but if you've seen Burnt Offerings (from 1976) and Die Die My Darling! (from the 1960s), Suspenseful movie and pretty good acting, but if you've seen Burnt Offerings (from 1976) and Die Die My Darling! (from the 1960s), you've already seen it. It is not an original movie -- it is a remake. Full Review »
  2. jonr
    Dec 28, 2005
    I really liked it at first but it's one of those movies that tries to be original and shock you with a plot twist. Unfortunatly it just I really liked it at first but it's one of those movies that tries to be original and shock you with a plot twist. Unfortunatly it just gave too many clues and it's very easy to figue out what's going on and it's annoying to watch the clueless protagonist. At least it gets props for a unstereotypical ending. Full Review »
  3. MarcoM.
    Dec 10, 2005
    Not the scariest film out there but the intriguing storyline makes up for it. I absolutely detested/adored the ending. It