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6 Souls (Blu-ray / DVD)

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6 Souls (Blu-ray / DVD)Starring Julianne Moore, Johnathan Rhys Meyers, Jeffrey DeMunn, Frances Conroy, Nate Corddry

Directed by Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein

Distributed by Anchor Bay


”I’d like to consider myself a doctor of science, but a woman of God.“

So says Cara Harding, a psychiatrist tasked with debunking the diagnosis of multiple personality disorder given to a young man named Adam in the long shelved, newly released film 6 Souls. That line, and indeed the first two acts of the film, seem to hint that the film will ultimately concern a battle between science and faith for our heroine, possibly adding a bit of thematic weight to what might otherwise be a humdrum supernatural thriller. But alas, it’s not meant to be.

6 Souls, while competently made and quite well acted, never rises to its promise of wrestling with any larger issues beyond its potboiler plot. The film, which once bore the far better moniker Shelter, opens with Cara, played by the always wonderful Julianne Moore, being beckoned to her father’s side to give her professional opinion on Adam’s condition. Her dad, played by Frank Darabont regular Jeffrey DeMunn, insists upon challenging his colleague/child, who believes that MPD is a mere psychological fad. Upon meeting Adam (Rhys Meyers), she discovers he has an alternate personality named David, based upon an actual person who had died some two decades previous. In an attempt to cure her new patient of his illness, Cara delves into investigating the real David’s death, discovering grisly details involving mountain witchcraft, torture, and ultimately murder. Throughout the course of her treatment, Cara finds that Adam has even more alternate personalities, each based upon a person who had died in some terrible circumstance. In doing so, Cara’s faith in science wanes even as she clings more and more to her faith in God, as she eventually discovers the true nature of Adam’s affliction – but not before putting herself and her loved ones in harm’s way.

It’s an intriguing premise, penned by Identity scribe Michael Cooney, and the strength of the film’s basic setup carries it quite a ways before it all begins to sink. The biggest problem comes with the final act, when the film’s true villain is revealed. While the idea itself is interesting enough, there is no explanation for the character’s actions throughout the previous two hours. Look, this writer doesn’t need every little thing spelled out in a film’s climax, and I appreciate ambiguity from time to time, but the film’s refusal to discuss the villain’s purpose not only weakens the movie’s ending, it undercuts everything that’s come before. “Why did he…?” “What was the point of…?” “Just what exactly was he…?”, are all basic questions one will have as the credits roll, none of which have any satisfactory answers. For all the film does well, including its truly chilling final moment, it’s ultimately all for naught due to the film’s dodgy logic and its utter lack of explanation regarding its antagonist’s plan.

Still, the film isn’t without merit. The performances are great, for one thing. Moore is fantastic as Cara, crafting a character wounded by recent tragedy and driven by her need to disprove the existence of multiple personality disorder. Whether she’s a loving mother, icy skeptic, exasperated daughter, or driven investigator – she’s really, really great here, and makes one wish she’d had a better genre film to participate in.

Also great is Johnathan Rhys Meyers, who juggles the various personalities which inhabit his character with ease. One imagines this role would be an actor’s dream (or nightmare), allowing them the opportunity to try out their range with numerous accents and character traits, and Rhys Meyers seems to have a blast with doing just that. And, when the script calls for it, he can prove quite scary at times. Again, another good performance ultimately wasted by the film’s failure.

Directors Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein keep the film looking dark and gorgeous throughout, much as they did with their critically maligned Underworld entry Awakening, and manage to craft some intensity and decent scares throughout. In addition, the sound design and John Frizzell’s musical score add immeasurably to the film’s creepy, unsettling atmosphere. It should be noted that both the film’s beautiful photography and impressive audio are well represented by Anchor Bay’s otherwise barebones Blu-ray.

Ultimately, though the film is technically accomplished and wonderfully acted, the film’s screenplay ultimately sinks the entire endeavor. 6 Souls isn’t a terrible movie, nor is it a very good one. Should you find yourself with nothing else to watch, you might check it out for what it manages to get right. Otherwise, don’t go too far out of your way to give this one a look.

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    American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review

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    Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo

    Directed by Colin Bemis


    Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.

    The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.

    As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

    Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.

    Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.

    In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.

    On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.

    In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.

    Until then, check out the film’s trailer HERE, and follow the movie on Facebook.

    • Strawberry Flavored Plastic
    3.5

    Summary

    Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.

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    Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)

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    We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.

    In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

    Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!

    If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

    The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

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    Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View

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    Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly

    Directed by Marcel Sarmiento


    Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as

    17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?

    What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.

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    Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?

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