“Shelter” (Original Title)
I dunno about you, but I’m into saving money right now. That’s why this week, instead of heading out to a theater, I flipped through my local On Demand offerings looking for a movie to review.
This week’s Cost Savings Cinematic Selection:
We meet Doctor Cara Harding (Julianne Moore) as she is finishing up giving her intense and pivotal testimony in court. It’s clear she’s a forensic psychiatrist and she just sealed a man’s fate. She’s a mess and she just wants to get home to her kid and let go for a while. Unfortunately for Cara, her father, the ‘other’ Dr. Harding (Jeffery DeMunn) has just piqued her interest in a very complex and unique case. Cara can’t handle another thing, but opts to deal with this case instead of her life.
Dr. Harding sets up the first of several appointments for his Daughter to interview David, (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) his most intriguing patient. Reluctant, drained and tired, Cara quickly realizes there is more to David than initially thought. It seems David has a type of multiple personality disorder. David is actually Adam and they’re both actually Wesley. It’s all very confusing; don’t worry if you’re already lost.
David’s got several personalities going and Cara, whom just lost her husband, now wants to lose herself in her work. Despite her initial, prickly response to her father’s prodding; Cara thinks that she can pick apart David’s background to figure him out. Once that’s done, all she’ll have to do is figure out is how to cure him.
Interestingly, this film debuted in Japan. As a reformed Asian horror whore, I can see why. The cinematic style of modern Asian horror movies from the early 2000s (e.g. Ju-on) is a clear influence in 6 Souls. The camera tricks, lighting and sound are implemented in such a way that you get this grey, eerie and ominous feeling that seems to permeate movies of that genre.
6 Souls is a supernatural thriller about this fascinating patient, whom Cara just doesn’t fully buy into. She’s not convinced he has multiple personalities, she thinks he is fully aware of everything he’s doing. Cara thinks David is an incredibly smart and manipulative individual with a whole lot of baggage and spare time. Either way, Cara needs out of her own life and into someone else’s. So, when she sees a door open up in David’s head, Cara crawls right in. This movie is the story of what she finds inside.
6 Souls started out well enough. Julianne Moore is in it and she makes everything better so I figured it couldn’t be that bad, besides the trailer was intriguing. Moore makes for a good forensic psychiatrist. She plays a broken, but not lost Cara. Cara’s husband was killed fairly recently and she and her daughter are each dealing very differently with their grief. Moore is intense, quick and fierce as Harding. She puts a strong yet worn spin on the character of a grieving widow with one heck of a day job. This role fit her well.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers did rather well as the guy with the multiple personalities. Honestly, I didn’t think he would be able to pull it off, but he did. While his performance held up well enough for me to suspend reality for a spell, it wasn’t the stuff of legend. With that said, he was convincing. The one thing that bugged me about his portrayal was his accent at the beginning of the film. I believe I hear an exaggeration and I think it may have been intentional considering how the movie plays out, either way I didn’t like it. It came off rather hokey.
The supporting cast all lends a hand in making this a pleasantly thrilling experience. Jeffery DeMunn and Frances Conroy are the standouts in this group. The acting is at worst, decent. The story starts out great and with good potential. It even holds its ground for the majority of the movie, but then toward the end, falters. Some of the plot twists are interesting and others feel like they’re unnecessary. Unfortunately, in the end, the story devolves into a mixture of too many horror movie metaphors.
The other thing that bothered me was that it was hard to keep David’s personalities as well as Cara’s diagnoses straight. If you’re not paying attention (or not able to rewind) you’re going to miss some stuff. The plot is a little crazy, which normally isn’t a problem for me since we’re talking about movies (i.e. pretend) and that tends to come with the territory. I don’t like, however when there are so many sub plots and story lines that I give up understanding who each character is and why they matter
While 6 Souls isn’t as bad as critics have said, it’s no Exorcist. It’s got some good acting, it builds good tension and it has the makings for a great genre-bending story. Unfortunately, 6 Souls just doesn’t come together the way I think it was intended. Even though the story feels somewhat disjointed and hard to follow, in the end the movie’s not a complete waste of time. Give it a shot and you might like it more than you expected.
6 Souls (2010) - C
C = It’s not breakthrough cinema, but you’ll likely end up having an OK time. The pros outweigh the cons enough to make this kind of enjoyable. Give it a go if you dare.