6 Souls (2008)

Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #296

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Also known as Shelter
Number of Views: One
Release Date: March 1, 2013
Sub-Genre: Supernatural
Country of Origin: United States
Budget: $22,000,000
Running Time: 112 minutes
Director: Måns Mårlind, Björn Stein
Producers: Emilio Diez Barroso, Darlene Caamano Loquet, Mike Macari, Neal Edelstein
Screenplay: Michael Cooney
Special Effects: Greg Nicotero, Howard Berger, Gino Crognale
Visual Effects: Mark Freund, Nathan McGuinness, Marc Varisco
Cinematography: Linus Sandgren
Score: John Frizzell
Editing: Steve Mirkovich
Studios: Shelter Entertainment, NALA Films, Macari/Edelstein
Distributors: FSF, E1 Entertainment, The Weinstein Company
Stars: Julianne Moore, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Jeffrey DeMunn, Frances Conroy, Nate Corddry, Brooklynn Proulx, Brian Anthony Wilson, Joyce Feurring, Steven Rishard, Charles Techman, John Peakes, Michael Graves, Chaz Moneypenny, Charles David Richards, Rick Applegate

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Suggested Audio Candy

Alan Silvestri “Settling In”


If I told you that the screenwriter of 6 Souls is Michael Cooney, who has been responsible for writing duties on Identity and … wait for it … Jack Frost, you would be forgiven for suggesting he suffers from a split personality. The former was a superior thriller, replete with enough twists and turns to drive its addressee round the bend and, the latter, well it featured a murderous snowman. In 2008, Cooney wrote the treatment for a film called Shelter and Swedish pair Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein enlisted a stellar ensemble and breathed life into his prose. The resulting film languished in limbo for two full years before eventually being gifted a limited theatrical run stateside under its new guise. Once it finally landed it was comprehensively shunned by critics and an elaborate $22 million outlay looked unlikely to ever be recouped.

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Film being such a subjective media, I tiptoed around the claymores, and decided to make up my own mind, a quite glorious piece of kit by all accounts. You see, said mind has the ability of independent thought and can come to its own assumptions without the help of a bunch of cynical fart clouds whose only interest is being sardonic with their scathing. Every now and then these infidels get it bang on the money but their graceless receipt of 6 Souls, an exemplary occult thriller crackling with tension and foreboding, is not one such good day at the office. The word turkey was brandished and the credulous masses gobbled up their cautionary words, steering clear of the multiplexes in their droves. Consequently Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein’s ended up consigned to obscurity. It is a crying shame and, the harsh treatment it received, utterly shameful.

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I’m not suggesting that it’s a masterpiece, far from it, but it is more solid than a buffalo’s stool and increasingly constrictive as it heads deeper into ominous territory. One recurring indictment is that it is confused; has no idea what it wants to be or where it is headed. That’s ironic considering one of the principal characters suffers from multiple personality disorder. If we feel like we’re being led up a blind alley then that is because it’s exactly where the seemingly possessed David/Adam/Wesley wishes us to share in his befuddlement. I know only too well of those pesky voices in your head and David Bernberg has three separate tongues to listen to blather on. Actually, the movie is called 6 Souls, so double that and then tell me that you know how to manage the balancing act.

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The jewel in the crown here is Julianne Moore. If this woman faked an orgasm in a public restaurant then even dining clergy would request what she’s having. It all just comes effortlessly to this flame-haired ultravixen; I have never yet come across a role which she didn’t do justice to and, as widowed forensic psychiatrist Cara Harding, she is utterly mesmerizing. Her faith in the almighty has been soundly shaken and she is desperate to get her life back on track the only way she knows how, through dedicating herself to her studies. One such lab-rat is David and she is forced to juggle her desire to make headway with her subject with her refusal to allow her own family to come to grievous harm. Naturally, our Alice leaps down the rabbit hole.

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The tortured patient in question is played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Dracula, Match Point) and he too commits himself willingly to the cause, reveling in each of his many guises in turn, and using every available nerve ending to relay his point. As the story wears on and David’s identity becomes more fragmented, he holds it all together admirably and this may very well be his finest performance to date. Playing off a dab hand like Moore must be like being taught ping-pong by an octopus; eventually your back-hand passing shot will become exquisite. It also helps that the wonderful Jeffrey DeMunn (The Hitcher, The Blob) is on hand as Cara’s father, who smells a rat before too long and realizes that his beloved offspring is being placed in mortal danger.


Mårlind and Stein establish a modicum of desolation with all manner of demonic lore, particularly in the final act when panic sets in for our maiden. Low-level mist slinks about her dainty ankles as each of her steps becomes is taken with a little more uncertainty. Make no mistake, this is a glossy production, the $22m is on constant exhibit, even once you’ve subtracted Moore’s paycheck. At no point does it feel at all turkey-like; such bitter naysayers clearly need to watch and appreciate more movies instead of dissecting too deep and searching for ailments. It is supposed to be a scary movie, moreover, it’s a multifaceted thriller the likes of which Keeper was reared on in decades passed. It is in my opinion that it achieves both plus change.

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Films like 6 Souls are too often overlooked and its the whole reason I wear my underwear outside my tights and don my ‘K’ chest crest. I’m all about helping the downtrodden which, when you consider the theatrical loss this accumulated after being given the Weinstein treatment and left to decompose on a dusty shelf for two years, means Mårlind and Stein will likely accept any charitable donations at this point. Here’s one for you guys… well done. Your film may not be a classic; will be unlikely to ever earn its rightful second wind, but gave me chills each time necessitated and left me suitably fragmented come its close. That’s a big fat tick in Keeper’s estimations. All this and not one treacherous snowman.


Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 7/10


Dread Factor: 3/5

For the Dread-Heads: 6 Souls burns slowly and deliberately, until which point as it has sealed all available exits and is prepared to make it personal. With Moore leading the charge, it is impossible not to feel the desolation in her plight as she receives her invitation to the ball and her world comes crashing down about her purty little freckled ears. You want things to end well for Cara but, as that residual mist begins to engulf both her and her nearest and dearest, it becomes an increasingly unlikely conclusion.

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Read The Omen Appraisal

Read The Exorcist Appraisal

Read Drag Me To Hell Appraisal

Read …of Tortured Faustian Slumbers Appraisal

Richard Charles Stevens

Keeper of The Crimson Quill

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  1. 🙂 Identity is another of my gems!!!
    I originally saw this film as titled Shelter. Pain in the ass when I went looking for it again only to discover the title change but 6 Souls is a much better title.

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