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6 Souls

Year: 2010
Production Co: NALA Films
Director: Måns Mårlind/Björn Stein
Writer: Michael Cooney
Cast: Julianne Moore, Jonathan Rhys Myers, Jeffrey DeMunn

It seems that after a career full of worthy, performance-driven dramas Julianne Moore told her agent to find her a B grade horror thriller with a plotty twist for a lark.

The problem is that it's not scary, the are few thrills and the twist comes after a halfway decent plot but doesn't capiatlise on it enough, like the writer couldn't decide if he was making a supernatural chiller or an are-they-crazy thriller (and look, obfuscation so the audience doesn't know which one you're making is fine – in fact it's the point – but if you can't decide which it is as the creator, you're just cheating everybody).

Moore plays psychologist Cara, who gets mixed up with an atypical movie psycho. Her father (Jeffrey DeMunn), also a psychiatrist, introduces her to Adam (Jonathan Rhys Myers) who exhibits the strongest symptoms of multiple personality disorder anyone's ever seen, contorting into scarily impossible positions when he 'transitions' from one persoanlity to another.

The case gets weirder as Cara investigates the real people Adam's other personalities seem to be based on. As well as being dead (in many cases dying violently) Adam knows things as his other selves he couldn't possibly without having known or been those people.

That's actually a decent sounding premise and there are some appreciably creepy ideas, like Adam's victims getting steadily sicker, coming up with welts on their backs in the shape of strange pagan symbols and eventually coughing up dirt before they die.

With those set-ups, it seems to be drawing to a conclusion that makes sense. An old lady turns out to be some sort of voodoo priestess. A local man shows Cara a home video his grandfather took in early settler days of a priest who came to town telling everyone he could protect them from the influenza outbreak using the power of prayer, Cara horrified to realise the man in the old cinefilm is Adam himself.

It's also got an interesting dimension in that the heroine is not only Christian but that her beliefs are part of her personality that directly relates to the plot. It also turns personal in a fairly deft rather than an overly showy way as Cara's dad, brother and cute daughter get mixed up in it.

But it falls apart in two ways. None of the denouement is clearly enough linked to everything else that goes on. It probably would be if you watched it again, but the other problem is this isn't the kind of movie you'd ever give another chance.

The critical reviews were almost unanimously awful and while it's not that bad (4 percent on Rottentomatoes.com is a bit much), it's all just a bit dour and drab, too tame to be a horror movie and not narratively robust enough to be a thriller – which wouldn't have worked in any case given the horror movie motifs. Interestingly the original title outside America, 'Shelter' tells you much more about what the story is actually about.

Moore is as talented and watchable as ever, but it's like watching someone put a gorgeous coat of paint on a rickety barn that's about to fall down.

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