In “Let us Prey,” who is Six?

In “Let us Prey,” who is Six?
Quick Answer: According to the director, Brian O’Malley, Six is the devil. Inspired by an Irish Catholic upbringing, O’Malley presents a version of the devil who is, oddly, the hero of the film in that he punishes the wicked and spares those who do right. The film takes place in a version of a small town intended to represent purgatory, where only those souls Six is determined to take with him to hell exist. There, they can showcase whether or not they deserve Six’s wrath.

Brian O’Malley’s artistic and dark Let Us Prey (2014) travels into a world where evil seems to guide the decisions of all its inhabitants. The number of players is small, but each is laden with their own guilt and desires, all darkened by a seemingly unstoppable rage. At the center of these angry people is Six (Liam Cunningham), a man named in accordance with the prison cell he occupies. Six sits, quietly, striking matches and moving his hands, seemingly able to control the thoughts and behaviors of those around him. He forces people to witness atrocities from their pasts, develops their inner rage, and puppeteers them into acting on their most heinous impulses. Six utters biblical jargon and speaks in platitudes as the souls around him are, one by one, brought into the darkness.

Liam Cunningham as Six

The question that is never fully answered is, why does Six have these powers? Who exactly is he supposed to be? Assuming he is the devil is the right thing to do, but the how and why which support that assumption are what makes Six, and Let Us Prey, most interesting.

The town of Inveree, in which Let Us Prey takes place, is empty. Nobody answers their phones outside of the main cast. Nobody sees or reacts to any of the villainous things taking place during the film. The supermarket, the pub, the gas station—they’re all empty. The police officers’ uniforms are stark and vague, with no designation or identification on them. And a whole group of murderers and abusers are gathered in a single location on the same night. All these facts are clues hinting the audience that the small town of Inveree is not quite right; at least, something peculiar is going on here. According to director Brian O’Malley, this is because the film takes place in purgatory, and Six is Lucifer, ushering the souls of the damned into the underworld as they commit one final atrocity worthy of their fates.

Certainly, the town does exist in real form, but the film takes place in an alternate version of that reality—a twilight zone somewhere mid-way between this world and the next. Here, souls are collected and await their journey to hell, with Six serving as the facilitator of their descent. Those not completely wretched, like Cesar (Brian Vernel), the young man who fled a hit-and-run and left a woman badly injured on the road, are here to receive one last chance for redemption in this ‘waiting room’ for hell. The rest are already doomed, as Six forces them to reflect on their sins before capturing their souls once and for all. As the devil, Six is in control of this universe, capable of bending it to his will and manipulating those inside to judge their evilness. His cell, and his name, are no doubt references to ‘666’ - the number of the devil.

A shot from the opening sequence of Let Us Prey

The film’s opening sequence finds Six beneath a murder of crows, emerging from water as if part of natural existence. The crows carry us to a village which seems normal if not for its desolation. There are no cars, no lights, no people. Six, then, as the lone wanderer sanctioned with the task of traversing the landscape and judging the guilty, crosses the earth as if a part of it. The film creates him in water, places him on land, and finishes his story in flames—an elemental journey.

Six admittedly stems from the director’s confused childhood image of the Devil. As a person brought up in a Catholic family, he was taught the devil was evil, yet would only take the souls of sinners. By that definition, O’Malley said, if you are a pure soul, isn’t the devil your ally? That is the foundation of Six in Let Us Prey—he’s the good guy so long as you don’t deserve to be at the swift end of his justice.

Six stands in a fiery doorway

The understated nature of Six and the artful construction of the film give him a mysterious, subdued, almost sorrowful presence on-screen. Six seems to have an appreciation for the innocent. He is let down when Cesar doesn’t take the moral high ground and confess his sin, but is excited when Rachel (Pollyanna Mcintosh) proves her righteousness and takes her place by his side. Six seems almost bored by the task of collecting souls after an eternity of doing so.

Clearly, Six is the devil, and the star of this wondrously twisted examination of morality and human behavior.