Popular Culture Review Vol. 24, No. 2, Summer 2013 - Page 28

24 Populär Culture Review Unfortunately, it is a game that Parker connects to Voodoo, a religion that is foreign to Harry Angel and to probably most o f the viewers o f the film. By linking Voodoo with devil worship and soul snatching, Alan Parker demonizes the religion and Supports Hollywood’s unjustified and misleading Voodoo construct. As a result, he misrepresents and undermines the work o f any ethnologists researching Voodoo, as they “condamnent categoriquement cette maniere de voir dans le voodou un culte du demon” (categorically condemn the perception o f Voodoo as belonging to the cult o f devil worship) (Montilus 111). Magic, Conjure, and Voodoo Dolls in The Skeleton Key The element o f soul snatching also finds expression in Iain Softley’s film The Skeleton Key. Here, Violet Devereaux, an elderly woman, pretends to be in need for Caroline Ellis, a young nurse from New Jersey, to take care o f her husband Ben, who, after a stroke, has lost speech and leg movement. Violet, however, is not interested in curing her husband. Her only interest is in Caroline’s soul and body, which, when the time is right, she desires to snatch away from her in a ceremony called “the conjure o f sacrifice.” Until then, Caroline shall remain on the property o f the old plantation home under the false premise to be the caretaker o f V iolet’s husband. Interested in her patient and her new environment, Caroline explores the old house and its surroundings in order to find clues about what could have caused Ben’s physical and linguistic paralysis. Similar to Harry A ngel’s discovery o f the Voodoo altar behind a closed window, Caroline soon detects a locked-away room filled with jars, roots, animal skulls, and Voodoo dolls. Not being familiär with New Orleans’ unique Voodoo Hoodoo tradition, she concludes that something mysterious and evil has caused Ben’s disability to walk and talk. Her initial bewilderment tums fast into a growing suspicion o f Violet’s true intentions for having her reside at the plantation, and a personal quest to identify the real cause for Ben’s disability. Even though she is right assuming that Ben’s condition is not o f any physical nature, she is wrong determining Voodoo as its cause. As Carolyn M orrow Long points out in her article “Perceptions o f New Orleans Voodoo” (2002), the goal o f Voodoo is not to harm, but to establish “a balanced life characterized by harmony with the human community, the natural environment, the Iwa, and the ancestral spirits” (Long, “Perceptions” 88). Nevertheless, to Caroline— and probably to