Indie Horror Month Exclusive: 6 Souls Writer Michael Cooney on Multiple Personalities, Science vs. Faith and More

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Last week the indie psycho-thriller 6 Souls, directed by Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein and starring Julianne Moore and Jonathan Rhys Meyers, arrived on VOD platforms everywhere from The Weinstein Co.

To mark the occasion, Dread Central recently chatted with writer Michael Cooney to hear more about the project.

Dread Central: Thanks for speaking with me today- I’m a huge fan of Identity. It seems that you have a great deal of fascination with multiple personality disorders after seeing that and now 6 Souls (laughs).

Michael Cooney: It does seem that way, doesn’t it (laughs)? And yeah, about nine years ago now when I was writing Identity, I was doing the research for that, and I discovered that not too long ago people who had the symptoms of dissociative identity disorder would be treated as if they had demonic possession. It wasn’t something that would have made sense for Identity, but I found it an endlessly fascinating idea for a story so I kept it in mind throughout the years.

These days, we can tell what’s going on in the brain so you don’t see those practices all that often- so what would happen if you did and it turned out to be valid? What if we abandoned those practices hastily but they actually worked better than traditional medicine because certain people were possessed and not suffering from traditional mental illnesses at all.

My idea was to put my own twist on that idea so I knew I needed the main character to be someone that is so invested in the science of how the mind works that she turns her back on her own beliefs which turned out to be the one thing that was going to save her ultimately.

Dread Central: Let’s talk about that for a moment- I really enjoyed that Julianne’s character had this duality to her where her beliefs and her logic are trying to come to terms with what’s happening in the story. I thought that was interesting considering she’s supposed to be the professional who works with people who have fractured minds or identities.

Michael Cooney: Thank you for saying that- that’s just a small part of the character of Cara (Moore) actually but you are right. She is fractured. If you notice, throughout the movie no one refers to her as the same name- sometimes it’s Cara, sometimes it’s Mommy, sometimes it’s Dr. Harding, sometimes it’s Little CiCi but it’s never the same- and I wanted that to reflect Julianne’s character and who she was to all these different characters in this story because it’s also true to life.

The way I talk to my eight-year-old is different than the way I’m sitting here speaking to you know and it’s different than the way I’d talk to a director too. That’s just part of life for all of us but the difference for Cara is that her ability to compartmentalize all of these things begins to unravel the minute she meets David (Rhys Meyers) and when she turns her back on her faith and puts all her trust in science, that’s really when everything begins to unravel for her. It’s because of those actions that she hastily puts her own daughter in jeopardy which is a parent’s worst nightmare.

Dread Central: I thought Julianne did a fantastic job in the film- Jonathan too. Was it enjoyable for you to see these two seasoned performers bring your script to life?

Michael Cooney: It really was; I couldn’t be happier. Julianne is heartbreaking and brilliant in this and Jonathan’s performance exceeded any kind of expectations I could have possibly had for this very complicated role. The way I wrote it was so challenging that I think I was probably the most nervous about that performance because if you went too far with it in one direction, it could have been way over the top.

So when Jonathan came on board, I felt a lot more at ease because he’s just so earnest and dedicated and really made each of those aspects of his performance into their own separate characters. It was like watching someone play six separate fully-fleshed out characters all at once and there aren’t many actors who could have pulled it off with such subtlety. It’s just a wonderful performance and when you have those scenes with just him and Julianne- just wow.

Dread Central: So what’s coming up next for you then?

Michael Cooney: Well, I’m working on a thriller right now- I’m still in the writing process in fact. The thing I love most about this project though is that my eight-year-old came up with the title; it’s called In the Dark. It’s the most perfect title imaginable and she doesn’t even know what the story is about. But the simplicity really plays well into the story. What’s funny is that she wants her 10 percent now but we’re still negotiating (laughs). Always keep them negotiating.

Indie Horror Month Exclusive: 6 Souls Writer Michael Cooney Talks Multiple Personalities, Science Vs. Faith and More

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