6 Souls (Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein, 2010)
For about half its length, with one glaring exception noted below, 6 Souls (originally released under the title Shelter) is a very interesting supernatural thriller. Then screenwriter Michael Cooney (Identity) starts pulling in some weird theological arguments, and the movie gets kicked off-kilter, but it was probably still salvageable at that point. Then comes the climax, and it’s terrible, but not so terrible that it made me want to gouge my eyes out.
Then comes the denouement.
So really, the best thing I can say about 6 Souls is that if you turn it off ten minutes before the end, you’re actually going to get a pretty good movie. It focuses on Cara Harding (Far from Heaven‘s Julianne Moore), a psychologist who subscribes to the belief that Dissociative Identity Disorder, under whatever name you’d like to shelve it, does not exist. Her father (The Green Mile‘s Jeffrey DeMunn), a psychologist himself, calls her in for a consult on a patient named David (b.Monkey‘s Jonathan Rhys-Meyers). While she’s talking to him, dad flips David’s switch, and David becomes Adam. The challenge: Cara has to prove that one of the two personalities is the real guy, and that he somehow found out enough about the other one—also a real guy—to have completely assimilated the other personality. But of course, things are not nearly so simple as that…
One of the biggest problems with this movie is one of the biggest problems with Julianne Moore’s career—her inconsistency as an actress. When she brings her A game, she is capable of taking a three-minute cameo and turning a good film into a great one (Chicago Cab). When she doesn’t, well, we get the unwatchable crap that is Safe. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen her flip it on and off in the blink of an eye before this movie, but Julianne Moore in the opening sequence, when she’s giving testimony, and Julianne Moore in the second sequence, when she’s in a bar afterwards, might as well be two different actresses. The testimony scene is as wooden as the fake coughing fit she goes into about a quarter of the way through Safe. It’s just plain terrible. But then she seems to find her stride, and for most of the movie, we get the good Julianne Moore capping off a high-powered cast (aside from those mentioned above, Brooklynn Proulx, Frances Conroy, and Brian Anthony Wilson all have major parts, and you’ll recognize a lot of the folks in minor roles here) who, once the movie starts digging its own grave, do the best they can with the script they’d been given. And like I said above, up until the big climax, the movie is still relatively salvageable; just turn it off right around the time Sammy and Stephen get to the holler and you’re good to go. You’ll miss the climax, but trust me, it’s as predictable as anything on the Hallmark Movie Channel; you can fill in the blanks yourself, and you’ll probably do a better job. But if you must watch the climax, for the love of Lazarus, turn the movie off before that godawful final scene you just know is coming. It is a soul-crusher. It has the potential to make you hate actors you otherwise revere. You have been warned. * ½