6 souls poster

AKA Shelter

Julianne Moore stars in this psychological thriller about a man who takes on the identities of those who’ve been killed by a mysterious disease. Like most films about schizophrenics or sociopaths, 6 Souls spends a lot of its time analyzing Daniel/Adam (Johnathan Rhys Meyers) before it gets to its confusing paranormal bent – that the body holding Daniel and Adam is actually an old spirit trapping souls, for some reason that’s not explicitly clear.

Moore plays Cara Harding, a psychologist cowed by her father’s legacy in the field. Repeatedly questioned by him, she takes on a case he refers to her because of its eccentricities: the man can change between the paraplegic Daniel and the able-bodied but aggressive Adam with just a phone call, and it appears that Daniel is actually someone who died 25 years ago. As Moore attempts to dissect one identity from the other, she finds Adam/Daniel quickly takes on more and more, and her friends and family begin to die around her. Crazy!

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Except it’s not. 6 Souls has been done numerous times in different forms, all of them fairly similar to this one from directors Mans Marlind and Bj√∂rn Stein. Though the film doesn’t stick to its psychological roots as it probably should, the paranormal aspect of the film is also derivative – it uses the same tricks throughout to glean scares, and most of them don’t work. A witch doctor, an old spirit: they’ve been done before, they’ll be done again, and all have had more soul than 6 Souls.

Moore looks tired in this film, and that’s due to the interminable running time here. If 6 Souls were a song, it would be the kind that rambles on and on without end – I’m thinking a Dave Matthews live jam. Part of the film’s longevity comes from the filmmakers trying to describe exactly what’s going on. There’s mumbo jumbo about souls’ shelters, there’s a witch doctor who sees out of a young girl’s eyes, there’s something about a sickness where the victims cough up dirt. All of it is so overdrawn that the film concludes about as well as a grandfather falling asleep mid- war story.

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The opening of the film starts out pretty strong, too, which makes everything all the more disappointing. If 6 Souls had simplified its plot a little bit, maybe cut out a few of the paranormal aspects, it might have been a more successful, if generic, movie. But 6 Souls goes for broke, and it winds up making little sense – probably not the kind of ending one would want for a film analyzing the sensibilities of those deemed “crazy.”

6 Souls on Rotten Tomatoes