Holy crap, there’s a lot of stuff to watch on television these days.
Once in a while I’ll be sifting through the mountain of viewing options, that’s available either through the Comcast (sorry Xfinity) “On Demand” option or my Xbox 360/PS3 movie selection, and I’ll see a film like “6 Souls” that’s apparently “Out before Theaters.” This means that I get to watch this movie before any moviegoer ever gets a chance to, so – right off the bat – count me in. For some weird (and super sad) reason, this makes me feel like I’m important – like I know something that other people don’t – so I usually take a shot at one once in a while.
The problem is, even though the rush is there from the find (I assume, it’s probably the same way those crazy dudes from “Storage Hunters” or “House Flippers” feels), there is a valid reason why these movies are not given a wide theatrical release. However, a good number of these films are in my genre of choice – horror – so every so often, I’ll find a decent, but not outstanding movie like “Rec 3” or “The ABC’s of Death” (which I also reviewed for this site). That being said, I never really find a fantastic horror film with a premium cast.
Imagine my surprise, the other day, when I came across “6 Souls” starring four-time Oscar nominee Julianne Moore and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. After watching the suspenseful and well-edited trailer, it was all but confirmed – “6 Souls” looked like a premium horror film with a talented cast, plus it was in the “Out before Theaters” section.
Holy crap, I found some good stuff to watch on television on this day.
Well, at least I thought it was going to be good. Oh well, the horror genre has fooled me again.
Actually, maybe I’m being a tad bit harsh on the film. I mean, it did try to make a thought-provoking, spooky film that tackled spiritual subjects like religion, faith and the balance between good and evil – as well as including the scientific half of the argument with topics like mental health, therapy, and psychological study. If truth be told, the fusion of science vs. religion actually made for a compelling and introspective story line.
The only thing wrong is that this film had already been made – and made better for that matter – back in 1998 starring Denzel Washington and John Goodman and it was called “Fallen.”
On a basic level, the plots of both films are virtually the same. In “Fallen,” Denzel played a policeman being tormented by the evil soul of a violent criminal he arrested, after the criminal was put to death. The aforementioned evil soul could go from body to body to body and stalk Denzel and was able to physically hurt the ones he loved. Oh yeah, the devilish soul would also sing a Rolling Stones tune when he walked by Denzel – so the audience knew who he was, I presume.
Without getting too far into the spoiler realm, the plot of “6 Souls” was eerily similar. To be fair, the film also borrowed heavily from films like (the criminally-ignored) “Frailty,” “The Ring,” “Identity,” and “Case 39,” as well, but it reminded me of “Fallen” the most.
In “6 Souls,” instead of a cop, Moore plays Cara Harding – a psychiatrist who didn’t believe in the concept that someone could have a split-personality or multiple personalities. Instead, she thought that patients who exhibited these symptoms could be “cured” using a careful and systematic dismantling of each personality.
However, her father, played by Jeffery DeMunn (R.I.P. Dale – sorry brother), is a psychiatrist that not only believes the opposite of his daughter and treats patients with these disorders, but he apparently spends all of his free time trying to change her opinion on the matter by having her interview his sickest patients.
This now gives us a chance to meet David/Adam/Wesley played by Rhys Meyers, who – if you haven’t looked at the three character names and figured it out – is quite a sick, sick bastard. Moore interviews the “David” part of his personalities and concludes that there is nothing wrong with him. Then a telephone that the father placed in the room with “David” rings and he picks it up and the father asks “David” to put “Adam” on the phone. Cue the stabbing, orchestral score (for scares, of course), throw out some shaky jump-cuts, and film Rhys Meyers having some spasms and convulsions and… voila… you’re now introduced to “Adam.”
This scene is important enough to be repeated several times throughout the film – way past the point where it got on my nerves – I guess, to let the audience know there’s something wrong with this dude. Well, duh. The problem with this is the overkill factor. The filmmakers – Swedish directors Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein (of “Underworld: Awakening” fame) and writer Michael Cooney (who ironically wrote the aforementioned “Identity,” which I didn’t yet know when I mentioned it earlier, weird) – spend so much time and effort portraying how crazy Adam/David/Wesley is, that by the time they explain why, you just don’t care.
Some of the ideas that come towards the end of the film in regards to the mountain-based religious concepts of blind “Grannies” and “shelter” (which was the original title of the UK version of the film, by the way) are interesting enough, as well as the brief period in which the uber-evil villain is introduced, but I wish they would have introduced some of this intriguing subject matter earlier.
Also making a welcome, scenery-chewing appearance, playing the mother of a paraplegic murder victim, is a post “Six Feet Under” and pre-“American Horror Story” Francis Conroy. Wait a second. How can she have made this film, which was just released on VOD, before “American Horror Story” which was released a few years ago? Ahhh, the plot thickens.
Quick side note: “6 Souls” was actually finished in 2009 and, as I mentioned earlier, given a United Kingdom release under the name “Shelter.” So apparently, Comcast lied to me when they told me it was “Out before Theaters.” It is not quite clear as to why it was shelved over here for so long, but it mimics the recent trend that other movies in the genre have followed – like the brilliant, but delayed “The Cabin in the Woods” and the aforementioned, and not-so-brilliant “Case 39” (also starring an Oscar winner and three-time nominee in Renee Zellweger, as well as recent nominee Bradley Cooper) – of getting an overseas release and/or a small, domestic release. Strange, I would have thought that “6 Souls” would have had just as big and successful of a release as “The Last Exorcism: Part II,” but somebody in Hollywood didn’t think so.
When the dust finally settles and all the personalities are laid out on the table, “6 Souls” wound up being quite an average film. With a way above-average cast and a fairly interesting concept, the film had the potential to be a creepy, little sleeper hit, but… alas… it just doesn’t reach its potential.
I’d have to recommend checking out one of the films I mentioned earlier – especially “Identity” and/or “Frailty.” These two films will have you squirming in your seat and chatting at the water cooler the next day. I’m sorry to say that “6 Souls” won’t have you doing either one of these two things. In fact, the film is quite the opposite – so forgettable that you might not even remember that you watched it by the time you get to the water cooler the next day.
Maybe that’s why it was shelved for three years – somebody forgot it existed.