Julianne Moore: The Horror, The Merrier!
What the hell is Julianne Moore doing in a direct-to-VOD horror flick like 6 Souls? She’s the best living actress never to have won an Oscar (though she was nominated for Boogie Nights, The End of the Affair, The Hours and Far From Heaven)—with the possible exception of her Kids Are All Right costar Annette Bening. Fear not: The 52-year-old actress isn’t being put out to cinematic pasture in schlocky shockers like Joan Crawford and Bette Davis were in years gone by. Moore’s always had a taste for scary movies.
Remember, her breakout role was in the 1992 psycho-chiller The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. Rebecca De Mornay and Annabella Sciorra were the ostensible stars, but Moore stole the movie as a sharp-tongued real estate agent who’s cut to ribbons by falling glass. (Her previous credits included Tales from the Darkside: The Movie and the supernatural P.I. TV-movie Cast a Deadly Spell.)
Moore’s fearless, bottomless performance in Robert Altman’s Short Cuts marked her as a serious actress to watch, and she followed it up by working with heavyweight directors like Louis Malle (Vanya on 42nd Street) and James Ivory (Surviving Picasso). Oh, and some guy named Steven Spielberg on the thrill-ride dinosaur sequel The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Assassins, in which she costarred with Sylvester Stallone, was scary, too, but for all the wrong reasons.
Even as she became a muse to arty auteurs like Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia) and Todd Haynes (Safe, Far From Heaven), Moore continued to dabble in the macabre, recreating classic roles like Lila Crane in Gus Van Sant’s shot-for-shot remake of Psycho and Clarice Starling in the Silence of the Lambs followup Hannibal.
So maybe her decision to star in 6 Souls shouldn’t be such a shock—until you see the movie, which was shot in 2008 and released abroad under the title Shelter. It’s a brutally overlong (112 minute) unholy mess about a psychiatrist who doubts the existence of multiple personality syndrome until she meets a mental patient (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, affecting a panoply of phony accents) who’s possessed by the undead souls of murder victims. Misdirected by a couple of Swedes, 6 Souls has nothing to recommend about it, except it packs as many unintentional laughs as Moore’s cult classic The Big Lebowski (released 15 years ago today!) packs intentional ones.
Still, it hasn’t stopped Moore from exploring her dark side—and no, I’m not talking about her Emmy-winning role as Sarah Palin in Game Change, although that film did play like a horror flick as the McCain campaign created a monster. She’ll reimagine another vintage horror role by playing the God-fearing mother of Chloe Grace Moretz in Boys Don’t Cry director Kimberly Peirce’s remake of Carrie (due in October). The part earned Piper Laurie an Oscar nomination back in 1977. If this turns out to be the project that breaks Moore’s Oscar curse, well, wouldn’t that be a scream?
What’s your favorite Julianne Moore movie? Any Crazy Stupid Love, A Single Man or Children of Men fans out there?