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A psychiatrist hoping to debunk an alleged case of multiple personality disorder is eventually failed by science in 6 Souls, a thriller that takes its time revealing just how heavily invested it is in the supernatural. An appealing cast and well-executed mood of foreboding would seem to hold some promise commercially, but the script grows silly in the third act, letting the picture down in ways that explain the marginal release RADiUS-TWC is giving it domestically.
Julianne Moore plays Cara Harding, a mental-health professional constantly at odds with her father (Jeffrey DeMunn), also a shrink, over the legitimacy of multiple-personality diagnoses. In the background, the two also fight over religious faith, which Cara clings to despite having lost her husband to a senseless killing.
Dad’s latest test case is a doozy: Adam (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is a tough-talking man with severe color blindness who sometimes transforms into gentle David, a normally sighted paraplegic so physically altered from his host that their X-rays are even different. Hatching some interesting (if medically dubious) hypothetical explanations for this phenomenon, Cara begins a detective project that seems to go in the right direction before leading to even harder-to-explain anomalies — and one or two more personalities, each with its own distinct accent, hiding out in Adam’s head.
Directors Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein are liberal in their use of slow-creep camera moves and tension-steeping music cues, creating an unsubtle but enjoyable psychological-thriller vibe. But early on, shots of unexplained disease and fluttering shadows reveal the filmmakers have other things in mind, supernatural leanings that grow more obvious each time the script has one character ask another about his or her faith in God.
Fair enough — this angle provides some Southern Gothic fun at first, with an encounter between one of Adam’s personalities, who turns out to have been a real person, murdered 25 years ago, and the dead man’s mother. But further investigation leads to increasingly kooky hillbilly hokum: backwoods caricatures who practice psychic surgery, scrawl weird runes, and make the kind of macabre art a junior high student might create after watching The Blair Witch Project. Moore is required to keep a straight face during all this, and does so admirably, but things fall apart as Marlind and Stein connect the dots between old-as-the-hills witchcraft and the case she’s investigating. In this light, the escalating dangers faced by Harding and her family are more tiresome than thrilling.
Production Companies: NALA Films, Macari/Edelstein, IM Global, Shelter Productions
Cast: Julianne Moore, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Jeffrey DeMunn, Frances Conroy, Nathan Corddry, Brooklynn Proulx
Directors: Mans Marlind, Bjorn Stein
Screenwriter: Michael Cooney
Producers: Emilio Diez Barroso, Neal Edelstein, Darlene Caamano Loquet, Mike Macari
Executive producers: David Bergstein, Alex Garcia, Billy Rovzar
Director of photography: Linus Sandgren
Production designer: Tim Galvin
Music: John Frizzell
Costume designer: Luca Mosca
Editor: Steve Mirkovich
R, 112 minutes
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