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(2005), PG-13 [R-13*] (1hr 38min)

Analysis Date
CAP Final Score
CAP Influence Density
August 13, 2005
22 out of 100

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Christian Long Distance

(This section may be and sometimes is somewhat subjective.)

If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary.

(2005), PG-13 [R-13*] -- ... about as "R" as "R" can get ...

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Brick Dust Productions LLC, Daniel Bobker Productions, Double Feature Films, Universal Pictures
Distribution (US): Universal Pictures, Universal Studios Inc.
Director(s): Iain Softley
Producer(s): Holly Bario, Daniel Bobker, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher, Iain Softley, Scott Stuber, Clayton Townsend
Written by: Ehren Kruger
Cinematography/Camera: Daniel Mindel
Music: Ed Shearmur
Film Editing: Joe Hutshing
Casting: Lisa Mae Fincannon, Ronna Kress
Production Design: John Beard
Art Direction: Drew Boughton, Suttirat Anne Larlarb
Viewed At: Driftwood Theater 6

Fed up with the lack of concerns of the staff of the home for the elderly when the aged die, nurse Caroline Ellis (Kate Hudson) strikes out on her own to be a home health care provider.

Caroline is the only candidate who accepts the job of caring for dying stroke victim Ben Devereaux (John Hurt) who who is little more than a vegetable. Ben's wife, Violet (Gena Rowlands in a most atypical role) is doing what she can to care for her husband. But she cannot do it alone. Bathing of Ben in particular. Though it is not immoral for a nurse to give a bath to an invalid, it is to display it. And there is exposure to an adult in skimpy underwear. If displaying adults in skimpy underwear is not sexually-oriented, why do filmmakers not use fat old people to parade the skimpy underwear? It is not the elderly Ben nor the likewise elderly Violet we see in underwear. Nor is it the elderly Ben or Violet who displays the nudity seen in this film.

In the hanging moss bayou swamps of Louisiana at 1750 Bayou Chapelette only one hour away from her apartment in New Orleans, Caroline begins to suspect Ben is not a victim of a stroke but is a victim of his wife who has been the victim of someone else who has been the victim of ... for several "generations." The same goes for Ben. All through evil magic to steal life from others.

The only problem Violet has with Caroline, other than she is white, is that Caroline will not likely be able to "understand the house." The house is an old mansion built by Thorpe, a corrupt banker 90 years ago. The Devereauxs have been occupying it since 1969.

The story goes that so many years ago a wild party ended up in evil revelry. Apparently for Hoodoo kicks, of one of the servants was set ablaze while hanging by the neck. By the way, according to the story, Hoodoo is not Voodoo. A character tells that Voodoo is a religion but Hoodoo, a Southern folklore form of witchcraft with African and European origins, is dangerous.

Violet gives Caroline a key - a skeleton key - that will open any door in the 30-room mansion. As time progresses and duties take her into an increasing number of rooms, Violet becomes more confident in Caroline and directs that Caroline fetch some planting seeds from the previously verbotten attic room in which Ben supposedly had the stroke. But as the busy-body Caroline is, she found a door that her skeleton key would not open.

After a string of attempts to get the door open, Caroline succeeds and finds things that were not meant to be found. One of the items on the list of things not meant to be found were mirrors. Many mirrors. Big mirrors. Small mirrors. And in-between mirrors. One was a floor-length mirror on casters. Caroline had noted there were no mirrors anywhere in the house, which was explained by Violet that folks her age do not need mirrors to remind them of the wrinkles every day. But the real reason the mirrors were locked up in the attic room, though certainly connected with Violet, is not at all related to Violet's wrinkles.

After finding many signals that Ben had not suffered a stroke after all, Caroline tries to get Ben out of the house. During her rescue attempts, Caroline finds that one of the friendly associates of the Devereaux estate, estate lawyer Luke Marshall (Peter Sarsgaard) was not friendly at all. At least not unless he got what he wanted from Caroline. That which he - and Violet - wanted Caroline was not willing to give. Not at all! But did.

Yes, mom/dad, this is a movie of witchcraft, demonism and Satanic rituals. Complete with sprinkling of brick dust, candles, circles on the floor, incantations and infant/child victims. And body parts in formaldehyde. Before all the "Hoodooians" start barking, I don't care what it is called by man. If a supernatural power is not of God it is unholy. So the rituals were Satanic. No, that is not ignorance. That is knowledge of the Truth; that is Armor in His Word. [Rev. 21:8, Rev. 22:15]

And, of course, the film deeply minimizes the Christian faith by making it nothing more than just another religion, treating it as unmentionable. However, Jesus was mentioned. Three times. In vain. Each time. Just as God was mentioned. Three times. In vain. Each time. [Deut. 5:11]

With a final score of 23 out of 100 and an influence density of 2.19, this PG-13 The Skeleton Key is about as "R" as "R" can get: nudity by a woman bathing herself which, as usual, has absolutely nothing to do with the PG-13 plot, put there for absolutely no reason but to get nudity in the film [**, Rev. 21:8, Rev. 22:15]; many forms of foul language, including God's name in vain both with and without the four letter expletive and the most foul of the foul words, just not as many as most R-rated films [Col. 3:8]; drugs; violence; evil; drunkenness [Eph. 5:18]; much more One man was set ablaze while he was hanging by the neck [Rev. 21:8, Rev. 22:15]. Most R-rated films require three and sometimes four logsheets to record all the instances of assault on morality and ethics. The Skeleton Key required five.

The movie did had something to say, but should what it had to say be heard? And the performers were stellar. But what was performed was cellar. [Phil. 4:8]

Please inspect carefully the listing in the Findings/Scoring section before you decide whether to let your kids see this one. Indeed, before you decide whether to see it for yourself. Desensitization toward the glory of our Lord and His Word can work on adults, too. Maybe not nearly as much as on pre-adults who seem most vulnerable to seduction by temptations of control without accountability, but it can. [1 Cor. 15:33]


If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ] or bold. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.


  • Deut. 5:11 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. [Vain is shav' {shawv}: emptiness, nothingness, vanity, such as an expletive. With or without the four letter expletive, the use of God's name in any way other than respect, reverence or thoughtful discussion is in vain. That includes the popular three syllable sentence with His name trailing it AND the misuse of Jesus' name.] **"Nakedness" (display of nudity) is spoken of as dark, restricted, undesirable, shameful, etc. 47 times in the KJV from Genesis to Revelation.
  • Col. 3:8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.Eph. 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. ["Wine" can be any intoxicating substance. Though it is not a sin to drink, it is a sin to get drunk OR to influence to get drunk or to drink in defiance. A recent study by the American College of Physicians (ACP) has found an undeniable link between the presentation of alcoholic beverages and tobacco in and as entertainment and abuse of them by adolescents. And teaching/causing youth to abuse alcohol/tobacco by emboldening youth with them in and as entertainment invokes Luke 17:2]
  • Rev. 21:8 But the [unforgiven] cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars -their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. ["magic arts" is generic for witchcraft, sorcery, divination, necromancy, spiritism, consulting with the dead, etc.]
  • Rev. 22:15 Outside [of Heaven] are the dogs, those [unforgiven] who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
  • Phil. 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

    ***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences to younger and younger audiences every year when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, pay for it, enjoy it, want it].
  • Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man [by his influence] spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
  • Rom. 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
  • Jude 1:4 For there are certain men* crept in unawares [secretly slipped in among you], who were before of old ordained to this condemnation [whose condemnation was written about long ago], ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [a license for immorality], and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto [or for] one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto [or for] me.
  • Luke 17:2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. ["Offend": skandalizo - to entice to sin; to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey; to cause to fall away. "Little ones": mikros - little;, small of age; younger which can include at-home teens].
  • Ps. 119:133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me [let no sin rule over me].
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. ["Evil" includes all things that are sinful.]


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
    (The objective heart of the CAP Analysis Model, independent of and insulated from the Summary/
    Commentary section.

    The Skeleton Key (2005) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
  • disturbing images of infirmity
  • fall with injury
  • horror images of flesh parts, repeated
  • tale of murder and suicide
  • explosive startles
  • many flash images of evil such as stitching mouth and eyes closed
  • images of child torture and brutality
  • violent fall from roof
  • vehicular violence
  • gunfire to kill, repeatedly
  • attack with choking to unconsciousness
  • kidnapping
  • assault, repeatedly, including to kill
  • firearm threat
  • pursuit to kill, repeatedly
  • implied assault with garden shears
  • fall down flight of stairs with injury
  • self slicing to get blood for Satanic ritual
  • threat to kill
  • assault with full-length mirror to effect evil possession

    Impudence/Hate (I)
  • 12 uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • one use of the most foul of the foul words
  • apathy about death of the elderly
  • talk of disrespect of father
  • embracement of the "Live Fast - Die Young" philosophy
  • trespassing/snooping, repeatedly
  • deceit
  • incredibly mean tease
  • lie to cover up behavior

    Sexual Immorality (S)
  • dressing to maximize the human form and/or skin exposure
  • rude gaze, repeatedly
  • man in tub, twice
  • tattoo to communicate sensuality, twice
  • female side nudity, multiple shots
  • adult in underwear, repeatedly
  • woman bathing herself
  • below navel skin, repeatedly
  • ghosting of female anatomy through thin clothing
  • sexual innuendo, repeatedly
  • posterior flesh squeezing over low belt line
  • excessively low-cut shirt
  • inappropriate touch
  • excessive cleavage
  • partial rear nudity

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • bar, repeatedly
  • booze, repeatedly
  • drinking, repeatedly
  • drunkenness, repeatedly
  • smoking, repeatedly
  • drugging to control, repeatedly

    Offense to God (O)
  • five uses of God's name in vain without the four letter expletive and once with it
  • minimizing the Christian faith
  • door closing by itself
  • book of witchcraft, repeatedly
  • witchcraft/Satanic incantations, , repeatedly
  • praying to Satan
  • hoodooism/witchcraft practicing hoodooism/witchcraft, repeatedly
  • voodoo teachings
  • demon possessions, repeatedly
  • Satanic ritual with children
  • portrayal that evil can make people insane
  • party revelry
  • living in fear of evil ghosts
  • portrayal of seeing evil ghosts
  • hoodoo witch doctor as an acceptable practice
  • infirmity by spell
  • healing by spell
  • hoodoo ritual
  • teaching/learning hoodooism
  • disturbing sequences of evil images and practices, repeatedly
  • Christianity spoken of as superstition
  • talk of stealing lives of others
  • portrayal of "magic" to manipulate
  • belief in evil spiritism
  • calling on demons
  • Satanic ritual setting and participating in a Satanic ritual to do "good"
  • ritual violence
  • portrayal of exchange of spirits by evil

    Murder/Suicide (M)
  • hanging
  • setting hanging man ablaze

  • Christian Educators Association International



    There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our more than eight years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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