Sometimes I think the biggest indication of actor’s talent is his or her ability to give a strong performance in an otherwise bad movie. Case in point: “6 Souls,” produced back in 2010 but not released until earlier this year (never a good sign). This is a movie in which every actor puts in yeoman effort in an otherwise yawner of a thriller.
“6 Souls” stars Julianne Moore as Cara Harding (am I the only one who thinks that name is just a little too close to Clarice Starling from “Silence of the Lambs?”), a recently widowed forensic psychiatrist. In the opening scene we see her testifying against a serial killer, and then reacting as her testimony puts him to death.
Arriving back home her father (also a psychiatrist) asks her to meet with a patient, a young man named David. Or is his name Adam? Played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers, David/Adam harbors multiple personalities. Harding eventually realizes there are even more personalities hiding inside of him. Even more startling, each personality seems to be of a person who died at the hands of Satanists or in the midst of some occult practice.
David/Adam also knows far more about these personalities than he should. David’s actual mother comes to the hospital and he is able to provide details no one else would know. Harding tries to unravel the mystery as people around her begin dying, and then David/Adam begins portraying their personalities as well. To explain more of the plot would give too much away, but it involves coughing up dirt and some voodoo mystic witch. It all became very cluttered toward the end.
There is one reason and only one reason to watch “6 Souls,” and that is for the performances. Moore aptly switches between protective mother and cold psychiatrist. Meyers is downright chilling as David/Adam, shifting seamlessly between accents and personalities. Even the smaller performances, from character actors such as Nathan Corddry and Jeffrey DeMunn, were strong.
What are some reasons to not recommend “6 Souls?” Where do I begin? As I said above, the script is a hot mess. It starts off as some kind of psychological thriller but then moves into a movie about possession. Nothing wrong with that, but then writer Michael Cooney (who also wrote “Jack Frost,” I feel obliged to mention) takes us down some odd track including voodoo revenge, early video recordings, and Christian propaganda. I was getting nauseous from all the twists and turns that went nowhere. And why are these people targeted? Why are Harding’s friends and family killed? We’re never told. All of this leads to an ending that is just insufferable and makes no sense based on what we’ve seen before.
Another big problem with “6 Souls” is the music. Directors Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein chose to layer the film with one of those grating scores that wants to alert you to when it’s time to jump, or when it’s time to worry about our heroine. I halfway considered turning the sound down when I saw a suspenseful scene coming, to avoid the music.
In the end, if you are interested in seeing actors doing their best with not much around them, “6 Souls” is your movie. Otherwise, there’s plenty of better material to watch.