We are the ones who dwell within! I am the one who dwelt within CAIN! I am the one who dwelt within NERO! I once dwelt within JUDAS! And I was with LEGION! I am BELIAL! And I...am Lucifer, the devil in the flesh!
~ The Six Demons revealing their names.
One, two, three, four, five, six. One, two, three, four, five, six. TRICK OR TREAT, I GIVE YOU TREATS AND TRICKS!
~ The Six Demons retaliating at Father Moore who tries to exorcise them.
Dolls and kisses and crosses and wishes... You think that can save your little girl?
~ The Six Demons mocking her family's prayers and faith.

The Six Demons are the main antagonists of the 2005 American legal drama horror film The Exorcism of Emily Rose, which is loosely based on the controversial real-life exorcism of the late Anneliese Michel. They are six demonic spirits who, in the past, possessed several evil historical figures and recently, an American college student named Emily Rose.

Biography

One night at 3 AM, Emily Rose experienced severe sleep paralysis in her college dormitory. This was the moment when all of the six demons entered Emily's body. She ran outside for relief but her condition grew worse. She became paranoid and saw other people's faces being contorted. On some occasions, the demons would paralyze her body and twist her limbs at odd angles. It seemed like the whole world was working against her, so Emily became anti-social and reclusive.

Nobody knew that she was demonically possessed so she was given anti-seizure medication instead. Her friend Jason, however, suspected that there was something even worse going on and took her home to her religious family in the countryside.

As the demons continually possessed and tormented Emily, Father Richard Moore, an exorcist, was finally called to banish the spirits. Prior to his arrival at Emily's home, Moore experienced disturbing supernatural events himself in his own home, such as seeing images bleeding and transforming to demons and a hooded figure believed to be a demonic manifestation. Emily's doctor Graham Cartwright also participated in the exorcism and decided to record the events with a cassette tape as evidence. They enter the house and see the demons violently attacking Emily and forcing her to self-harm in the bedroom.

With the help of Jason, they restrain her and recite the Lord's Prayer in attempts to exorcise the demons whilst the rest of Emily's family prayed downstairs. The demons, however, taunt and tell Moore to "try harder" as they summon the family cats to attack him. Jason and Dr. Cartwright help Moore recover whilst Emily frees herself and leaps out of the window.

The possessed Emily escapes to the barn but the others give chase and wanting to complete the exorcism, Moore demands the demons to reveal their names. The demons are reluctant to do so as they provoke the horses in the barn to act violently. Having enough of Moore's stern commands, the demons eventually reveal their names, resulting in Emily fainting.

Emily's horribly crippled body after being fatally possessed.

The day after the exorcism, Emily went to the fields and is visited by the Virgin Mary. Offered a choice between ascending to Heaven or remaining to become a martyr but prove the existence of God and demons, Emily chooses the latter. She recounts these events via a letter and accepts her fate. Before her death, she receives the stigmata on her hands. The demons eventually kill her, leaving her body and face horribly crippled and scarred. Her death becomes a prolific court case and whilst some accuse Moore of neglecting Emily on her last days, which he vehemently denies, Dr. Cartwright decides to get involved by giving Moore's lawyer Erin Bruner the cassette tape of the exorcism. Before he could testify, a demonic hooded figure, presumed to be one of the six demons and the same form is seen by Moore, appears before him. He becomes distracted as a speeding car suddenly hits him, killing him instantly.

Symbolism

These six demons have presumably existed since the beginning of time, as shown through their confessions of possessing several well-known historical figures. It's unknown whether they roam on Earth or reside in hell, but they presumably "pass" onto a new individual after finishing possessing their previous host:

  1. Cain: The first murderer in the history of mankind, according to the Bible. He killed his brother Abel out of spite and jealousy.
  2. Nero: The Roman persecutor of early Christians. He infamously blamed them for the ills of the empire, tortured them, and burned them alive through various means.
  3. Judas Iscariot: One of Jesus's disciples who betrayed Jesus and decided to hand Him over to the Roman authorities, who planned to crucify Him.
  4. Legion: A group of demons who infamously possessed a man in Gerasenes but was later exorcised by Jesus. They later possess a herd of pigs, successfully driving them to commit mass suicide.
  5. Belial: A powerful demon known for lawlessness and anarchy, according to extrabiblical Jewish/occult beliefs. It was originally a term used in the Old Testament to denigrate individuals who have acted immorally/disobeyed God (e.g. the wicked sons of Eli, Nabal, opponents of King David, Jezebel's two witnesses).
  6. Lucifer: Also known as The Devil or Satan. He was cast out from Heaven eons ago. He is the ruler of the hierarchy of demons.

Real-Life Demons

These were the demons that possessed Anneliese Michel in the real exorcism.

  • Cain
  • Judas
  • Lucifer
  • Nero
  • Fleischmann

Trivia

  • It's unknown why the six demons chose to possess Emily.
  • The behavior of some of the six demons can explain why Emily developed strong anti-Christian prejudices despite being Christian all her life (Nero, Lucifer), a murderous hatred towards her family and their horses (Cain, Legion), her focused aggression towards Moore for being a priest (Belial) and eventually self-harming/suicidal tendencies (Judas) during her last days.
  • Emily's encounter of the Virgin Mary prior to her death could be a possible reference to how Anneliese (the real Emily) believed she was dying to atone for the sins of the youth.
  • Like the real case, the existence of the six demons is disputable and could be a symbolism of Emily's deteriorating mental health, as suggested by skeptic Ethan Thomas in the film.
  • The six demons and the runaway horses also reference the Gerasene demon and the Legion in the swine in the Bible, which is found in the gospels of Mark (Chapter 5 verses 1-20), Matthew (Chapter 8 verses 30-37), and Luke (Chapter 8 verses 27-38)

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