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Movies like 6 Souls, which creeps into theaters and VOD sites, remind me how psychological thrillers or supernatural thrillers or thrillers period are always tricky to pull off. These flicks always must walk a tightrope of staying intensely, viscerally plausible without falling off and descending into complete ridiculousness.
For the first hour or so, 6 Souls, which was made three years ago as Shelter and has been retitled upon this domestic re-release, makes audiences believe that it will keep its balance and stay on the rope. Julianne Moore, who seems to star in movies like this every five years, plays a God-fearing, widowed psychiatrist/single mom who debunks the claims of murderers that claim multiple personality disorder. She butts heads on this matter with her less skeptical father (Jeffrey DeMunn), also a shrink. He challenges her to debunk David (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers), his wheelchair-bound, backwoods-accented patient who can also turn into Adam, an aggressive guy from the streets who can walk just fine.
Swedish directors Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein (who went on to direct last year’s Underworld: Awakening) create a moody, stylishly minimal atmosphere, complete with suspenseful music cues that verge on self-parody. They also pull off attention-grabbing camera moves (fluid overhead shots, steady long takes) that would make Brian De Palma shed a proud tear.
Everything goes downhill in the second hour. Whereas the first hour had an unrushed leanness to it, as Moore’s doctor slowly-but-surely discovers more about who David/Adam is, the second hour is anxiously crammed with a bunch of stuff. As you’ve probably guessed from the title, more personalities show up to inhabit Rhys-Meyers’ character, which the movie speedily doles out one after the other. Rhys-Meyers seems so game to show off his range, playing different characters in the same body.
Unfortunately, the filmmakers are far too busy throwing in everything, from obvious exposition to a detour into white-trash voodoo land to a showdown complete with a gotcha ending.
6 Souls is an attempt to address the religion-vs.-science debate. With the plot (scripted by Michael Cooney, who’s responsible for the straight-to-cable Jack Frost movies) hammering the message that there are some things out there you can’t explain—not to mention that the movie offs most of the non-believing characters—the film literally appears to be on the side of the angels.
But even though God is actually mentioned in the closing, special-thanks credits, dude couldn’t unfortunately work His/Her magic and prevent this film from being the uneven, preposterously out-of-control wreck that it is.
Can the church say “Amen”?