The muddled macabre melodrama ‘6 Souls’ has undergone two movie title changes (it was formerly known as ‘Shelter’ back in 2009) yet the preposterous theme has to do with multiple personalities of a disturbed mental patient. The fact that this hackneyed horror show has been sitting on the shelf for a few years clearly demonstrates what its decision-making profile suggests in whether it is a disjointed Johnny-come-lately psychological thriller from yesteryear or a refreshed but rancid rabble-rousing freak feature that inexplicably managed to score a respectable cast of capable players along for a perfunctory joyride. Okay, let us just say that both wayward instances aptly apply.
Co-directors Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein (‘Underworld’) oversee this supercilious supernatural sludge that tackles every conventional and clichéd gimmick from maddening identity crisis to manufactured occult-oriented confliction. Screenwriter Michael Cooney (2003’s ‘Identity’) dabbles in underwhelmed menacing material that never competently invigorates the outlandishly tired hysterics thoroughly. Senseless, somber and soulless, ‘6 Souls’ suffers from more than its banal ball of confusion creepiness. The only genuine suspense behind the sluggish ‘6 Souls’ is trying to figure out how in the world did someone of a creative caliber such as Julianne Moore sign up for this morbid mediocrity?
In what seems shamelessly identical to ripping off ‘The Silence Of The Lamb’s harried heroine Clarice Starling, Moore plays the God-fearing Dr. Cara Harding — a devoted and determined psychologist whose specialty is examining complex criminals and their alleged insanity tendencies. Dr. Harding has her personalised package of burden to bear (what else is new?). She’s recently widowed and saddled with a disillusioned young daughter who is coping with her sudden fatherless status. Also worth noting is that Dr. Harding stands in the professional shadows of her headstrong clinical psychologist father (Jeffrey DeMunn).
While grown somewhat disengaged with her career path as of late, Dr. Harding finds herself challenged by the latest head-scratching patient in her father’s severely conflicted referral Adam (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). Adam is riddled with a slew of deadly peppered personalities that include the wily antics of both deceptive alter egos David and Wesley as well. Hence, Dr. Harding must conduct an exclusive case study involving Adam/David/Wesley and determine the ominous mind-bending angles of this deranged individual as she follows him (or ‘them’) closely. So the hellish nightmare takes a turn for the worse as Dr. Harding delves into the convoluted psyche of her chilling charge Adam as she investigates the depth of his depravity as it breaks loose for the audience to wallow in with generic goose-bump gumption.
As ‘6 Souls’ dips into its pseudo-sullen skin, the pedestrian direction by tandem Marlind/Stein goes into a monotonous mode as it explores tossed-about tripe involving teasing eerie dark secrets, fragile familial foundations, random uttered curses, shaken faith/questionable belief systems and arbitrary mystical musings that range from carved crosses on fleshy backs to the vague fixation of Dr. Cara Harding’s neckline crucifix. Additionally, the movie showcases such flinching fodder as spooky Satanic-worshipping hick witches (that’s no joke, folks!), grainy archival 1918 footage of the flu-stricken masses and gruesome murder scenes thrown in for so-called contemplative shock value.
The low-budgeted production value for ‘6 Souls’ feels shabbily conceived and constructed. The annoying tactical scare bumps, tedious and trivial haunting musical bits and dank shadowy sheen take on an amateurish blueprint more than it does a succulent sentiment of sinister-craving cinema.
Moore’s laughable performance as a put upon Christian head shrink to the criminally cockeyed crowd evenly rivals Rhys Meyers’s tacky turn as a juiceless juggling act of insidious identities (Rhys Meyers’s stab at various American accents is not the least bit convincing). Resourceful and gifted veteran actress Frances Conroy is regrettably wasted as Mrs. Bernburg, the grieving mother of a murdered son whose personality is taken over by Rhys Meyers’s damaged David ego.
The woefully stagnant Souls-searching being performed in this face-switching frightfest is hopelessly inert and idiotic. As far as split-personality spook flicks are concerned, turn the other cheek regarding this thin slice-and-dice thriller.
6 Souls (2013)
Radius-The Weinstein Company (TWC)
1 hr. 28 mins.
Starring: Julianne Moore, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Jeffrey DeMunn and Frances Conroy
Directed by: Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein
MPAA Rating: R
Genre: Horror/Mystery & Suspense/Psychological Thriller
Critic’s Rating: * 1/2 stars (out of 4 stars).