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Julianne Moore makes everything better, but what the hell is she doing in 6 Souls, a direct-to-video-quality horror flick filmed way back in 2010 but only seeing the light of day now? Previously known as Shelter and directed by MÃ¥ns MÃ¥rlind and BjÃ¶rn Stein, 6 Souls is a sloppy mix of hocus-pocus magic and misdirection. Moore plays forensic psychiatrist Cara Harding, who begins treating a young man with multiple personalities (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), some of which turn out to be murder victims. 6 Souls features surprisingly good performances from its two leading actors, but overuses red herrings to cloud an ultimate truth that is not especially shocking. I suspect a contract somewhere stipulated this had to receive limited theatrical and Blu-ray releases within a certain time period. Well, here it is!
Harding's father (Jeffrey DeMunn) refers one of his patients to his daughter. The man introduces himself as David and is confined to a wheelchair. Midway through the interview, the elder Harding calls David on the room's rotary phone and asks for Adam. David violently convulses and begins speaking to Harding as Adam, a man with a completely different demeanor and full mobility. Initially convinced that David is creating multiple personalities based on past trauma, Harding digs deeper into David's past to discover any background on Adam. She is shocked when David reveals more personalities, some of which are long-dead murder victims, and stumbles upon the mother (Frances Conroy) of the real David Bernburg, who died when the man claiming his identity was only six. David/Adam/etc. is clearly none of the men he personifies, and Harding retreats to the rural backwoods for answers about her patient and related locale lore.
If that brief synopsis of the film's setup sounds muddy, that's only because the film itself is a mess. 6 Souls boasts two directors, eleven producers and three distributors but only one writer, Michael Cooney, who evidently set out to create a psychological thriller in the vein of Identity and The Skeleton Key. Cooney gave it the old college try, but the execution falters under the weight of its own pretense. Random plot points thrown in to divert the audience's attention from an ending that is completely unsupported by logic or previous events are not the trappings of a good thriller. Sure, 6 Souls has its share of surprises, but its out-of-nowhere twists signal sloppy writing. Harding's investigation leads her to the rural practice of faith healing, which, believe it or not, does relate to the plight of Rhys Meyers' chameleon man. Without a strong foundation, 6 Souls crumbles as it moves along. The film never sets rules about its antagonistic forces, so pretty much anything goes. This cheats the audience out of any satisfaction it might have gained from taking this bumpy ride with Moore and Rhys Meyers.
Speaking of Moore and Rhys Meyers, they're actually pretty good here (When is Moore not good, though?). I suspect they signed on for one of three reasons: 1) The outline of the narrative was better than the finished script; 2) They had friends on the crew; or 3) They needed some fun money. I do applaud the filmmakers for making Rhys Meyers' crazy eyes part of the story - those things are unnaturally blue. After three years on a shelf somewhere, 6 Souls should have been an absolute travesty. The film is not unwatchable; its narrative threads just don't come together to form a cohesive whole. The material is well below the talents of the lead actors, and the thrills recall the bargain-bin horror flicks found in most big box stores.
The 2.35:1/1080p/AVC-encoded transfer is fine if unremarkable. Detail is acceptable on average; some shots are sharp and defined while softness creeps into other low-light and indoor shots. Skin tones are natural and colors are well saturated. Black levels are OK but there is a moderate amount of crush in some nighttime scenes. Wide shots of the Pittsburgh skyline are a little noisy but the image is very impressive when Harding visits the Bernburg farm.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack supports the requisite stinger cues and thriller soundtrack clichÃ©s with ease, allowing the subwoofer and surround speakers to support the bursts of sound. Dialogue is crisp and appropriately balanced with effects and score. Ambient and action effects move to the surround speakers and the track's clarity is good throughout. English SDH and Spanish subtitles are available.
Zip, zilch, zero.
Julianne Moore stars in this direct-to-video-quality thriller about a man (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) whose multiple personalities turn out to be murder victims. The premise might have worked with a stronger script, but 6 Souls devolves into a messy blend of spiritual hooey and backwoods justice. This has been locked in a closet since 2010 for a reason. Skip It.
William lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.