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6 Souls / Six Souls 2010 | 112 min | R | 2.39:1



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Theatrical release date

 05 April, 2013
 09 April, 2010

Country of origin

 United States

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Shelter Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, January 4, 2012

Watching “Shelter” feels like viewing two separate pictures sewn hastily together. One side of the movie is an admittedly engrossing multiple personality disorder dissection with mildly effective suspense inclinations, the other side consists of undefined supernatural elements meant to give the story a unique kick, away from the genre norm. “Shelter” also comes from the screenwriter of 2003’s “Identity,” which is an excellent clue to the head games and cheats contained within. The conflicting speeds of the feature create chaos, derailing a familiar but promising junk food thriller, which tries much too hard to keep the viewer off the scent of a mystery they will likely show limited interest in to begin with.

Psychiatrist Cara Harding (Julianne Moore) is a troubled woman trying to get past the murder of her husband and raise her young child with a sense of hope and spirituality. In an effort to challenge her, Cara’s father, Dr. Harding (Jeffrey DeMunn), presents his daughter with the case of Adam (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), a young man suffering from dissociative identity disorder, with one of his personalities claiming to be a paralyzed man killed in a seemingly satanic ritual 25 years earlier. With her curiosity piqued, Cara sets out to “cure” Adam, finding his case too fantastical for normal methods of treatment. As she investigates Adam and his numerous personalities, Cara uncovers shocking evidence of witchcraft in rural America, tracing her patient’s inner turmoil to a source that threatens the safety of everyone she loves.

The directors here are Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein, creators of the 2005 “Matrix” offspring “Storm” and the upcoming sequel, “Underworld: Awakening.” The men were obviously selected to helm the picture due to their visual expertise, and “Shelter” doesn’t disappoint on that front, creating a widescreen space of precise lighting and moody interiors to best sell what passes for spooky in this story. The duo have a rougher time with exposition, or at least a basic attempt to smooth out the rough transitions of the tale, constructed by writer Michael Cooney. “Shelter” is a puzzler, but it initially comes across as a psychological study, tracking Cara’s efforts to peel away the layers of Adam’s disorder, uncovering his delusions and identifying his stimuli. The filmmakers execute the mystery with a secure sense of the unknown, encouraging the viewer to partake in the investigation, dropping clues and strengthening characterizations to a moderate degree. And for all you thrill-seekers, Marlind and Stein enjoy the cursed art of the sonic jolt, keeping matters on edge with plenty of cheap stings.

While Adam’s sinister secrets are rarely enthralling, “Shelter” locates a reasonable comfort zone of discovery, performed satisfactorily by Moore. The actress seems baffled by the script (a feeling I could relate to), but her commitment to the vocational jargon and displays of stress are adequate, helping the material unearth a few morsels of excitement. The rest of the cast doesn’t match her concentration, with Rhys Meyers fumbling the critical role of Adam, losing the mystifying menace of the role through showy acts of personality separation and shoddy accent work. “Shelter” is a better picture without Adam’s direct participation, showing more signs of life with Cara’s analysis, miles away from the iffy acting and lukewarm terror of the antagonist.

The script looks to dig into Adam’s range of evil influence, introducing goopy bodily decay with Cara’s family and friends, requiring her to approach the unthinkable for answers. These revelations take “Shelter” into a choppy area of excessive explanation, devoting a second half to a conclusion that’s ridiculous, establishing witchcraft and assorted magical influences that snap the opening’s relaxed promise. The resolution goes wide to keep viewers guessing, sprinting to absurdity to make an impact. “Shelter” didn’t need an epic resolution of demonic fury to make its audience feel satisfied and sufficiently tricked, it needed cohesiveness and some creative restraint. Spectacle, and all the superfluous effort it requires to launch, just makes the effort sour instantly.

Starring: Julianne Moore, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Jeffrey DeMunn, Frances Conroy, Nathan Corddry, Brooklynn Proulx
Directors: Måns Mårlind, Björn Stein

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