This stupidly funny ooga-booga-spirits-n-stuff thriller, formerly known as Shelter, was first released in Japan in March of 2010. It hit the U.K. the month after that. You read that correctly: three years ago. Since that time, people in Kazakhstan (April, 2011) and Spain (June, 2012) have also enjoyed the privilege of seeing this film before you. It's been available on Blu-ray in Finland as of 27 months ago, so those people didn't even have to leave their house to watch it. And you, lucky last Americans, are also allowed not to venture outside for its very limited theatrical release this weekend because it's been for rent here on the internet for a few weeks, too.
Or you can just keep reading while I spoil the whole thing for you.
And by "spoil" I mean encourage to see, ideally as a double feature with Tyler Perry's Temptation: Confessions of A Marriage Counselor. They make nice companion pieces, since both function within their own idiosyncratically supernatural economy. Perry's sucks the life out its characters with terminal illness as punishment for sexual misdeeds and this one sucks the souls out of everyone it can get its hands on via Satanic hillbilly grandmothers and evil spirits existing in the form of sound waves that resemble the album cover design for Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures. I'm not going off on a fantasy tangent here; both of these excellent inventions (and more) are really in this movie.
Julianne Moore plays a forensic psychiatrist goaded by her pushy, irritating psychiatrist father (Jeffrey DeMunn) into observing Jonathan Rhys Meyers, a man alleged to have multiple distinct personalities. She dismisses it all as the ginned up fantasies of "ill-conceived Hollywood movies," although, presumably, not the one she's starring in here. When JRM shifts between identities he has seizures and snaps his neck back like he's being spoon-bent by Satan, then affects a variety of regional dialects, including Tough New York Street Fellow and All People of The American South At Once. Meanwhile, everybody who comes into contact with JRM gets weird cross-like rashes on their backs. Then they begin coughing up dirt. Moore investigates the identities of the people inhabiting JRM by creeping around empty houses and uncovering unsettling facts about them, starting with how dead they all are.
Along the way to her ultimate showdown with evil she uncovers clues like sheet music hung on clotheslines, evidence of ritual slayings, old ladies succumbing to religious mania, rotary phones that pass the suggestion of evil spirits along (I guess because nobody uses them for anything else these days or else the spirits themselves are strictly analog entities), those black and ghostly sound wave monster-things that attack you in your sleep, backwoods surgery, Rob Halford-esque rock stars, Necronomican-style warnings tagged on every wall within a hundred miles, the reincarnation of an old-timey faith healer, albino children and people squirting mucus from their own eye sockets. Nothing scares Dr. Moore, though, she just drives around from place to place collecting evidence that makes no sense and being yelled at by her father for not asking enough "why"-based spiritual questions of herself. Dude, she's hunting down a phantom sound wave. Know how elusive those can be? She's BUSY.
"You're in great danger, Buckeroo!" yells JRM at one point near the end, when he realizes Moore has managed to piece together the wacky puzzle the film has decided to create, the one where he's the missing piece. And you get the feeling that he's not simply yelling into the void but, instead, trying to warn the real-life him that no good can come from acting in a film that requires impersonating a little girl whose soul you just inhaled, going all wide-eyed and calling Julianne Moore "Mommy" as she uses her last shred of dignity to impale you on an evil-vanquishing spike. Unless "Buckaroo" is one of the six souls, which is entirely possible. I lost count of them. You will too.