Saturday, October 5, 2013
Halloween 2013: Guilty Pleasures Week ~ The Phantom Of The Opera (2004) & The Skeleton Key
The Phantom of the Opera is one of my favorite classic horror novels. The whole story is heartbreaking yet horrifying, and I've enjoyed the many incarnations of the tale of the masked anti-hero living in the bowels of the Paris Opera House. And the story has translated to Broadway with rave reviews. So it's only natural that a feature film of the Broadway show would be wonderful, right?
Hmm... It didn't seem to fare as well as expected with critics, and I'm fairly certain that most horror fans dislike the Phantom being romanticized so much. To make it such an obviously lavish love story seems out of character from the Gaston Leroux novel of 1909. Though the heart of the novel is gothic romance, there are horrors inside that were never brought to fruition in the musical, and likewise did not translate to screen.
If I really need to mention the actual storyline, here's what you need to know: Erik "The Phantom" is a disfigured musician who lives in the depths of the Paris Opera House. He has tutored a lovely soprano, Christine Daaé (Emmy Rossum), for years from afar, and seeks to make her lead in the opera by causing accidents to rid the opera of her competition. Christine is haunted by the death of her musician father and believes it is him (as an angel) who has taught her all he knows of music. When Christine's childhood love, Raoul (Patrick Wilson) comes back into her life, the Phantom becomes insanely jealous and sets a plan in motion to kidnap Christine and keep her locked away with him forever.
The real reason to love this film though (besides Andrew Lloyd Webber's music, which is unmatched in its grandeur) is the gorgeous sets and stunning imagery. Luxurious is not a strong enough word. The lavish spectacle of Erik's underground lair, the ominous yet striking beauty of a misty graveyard, the shadowy perfection of a rooftop overlook...it's all just flawless. Combined with the music, I just cannot stop watching.
If you've never seen the film, here's one of the scenes that shows the vast, gorgeous set of the Paris Opera underground...
And Marie's pick is one of my favorites as well: THE SKELETON KEY
I call it a good bit of Southern Gothic fun, you call it a pile of garbage, but we both known it as The Skeleton Key (2005).
Kate Hudson’s fine ass plays Caroline, a hospice nurse who has been assigned to an elderly client living with his wife in an old plantation house in New Orleans. But the house and its tenants bear many secrets, and they have a lot to do with the land’s tainted, voodoo-filled past!
There’s ghosts, black magic and side-boob, what more could you ask for in a film?! Well, apparently that isn’t good enough for some people. Critics and other people with decent taste in cinema chide The Skeleton Key with gathering a great cast (John Hurt, Peter Sarsgaard, Gena Rowlands) and giving them a shitty movie.
Okay, maybe the movie didn’t reach its full potential. Overall, the screenplay could have been a bit richer. It wasn’t necessarily predictable but the climax doesn’t exactly floor you. The storyline is a bit threadbare, focusing too much on desperate foreshadowing and creepy moments—which end up failing to terrify.
The Skeleton Key has some great elements—the vinyl of eerie ritualistic chanting, a beautiful old Southern home complete with its own skeleton key—but it fails to do anything very remarkable with them. Looking back, there are fewer memorable frightening scenes and more that leave you scratching your head, wondering, “Why is this in here?”
If only all the pieces complimented each other like a patchwork quilt and the story moved as fluidly as Gena Rowlands' lilting Louisiana drawl, then perhaps the general public would accept this as a decent work of cinema. But for now, I suppose it will just have to be appreciated by myself, Christine, and perhaps a few others of you out there.
Rather than give me nightmares The Skeleton Key sends me off to pleasant fantasies where I’m drinking lemonade with my Southern gentleman, Peter Sarsgaard—naked.