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Posted by Kimberly Pierce | Sep 30, 2022 | Movies, Reviews | 0
High school – it’s a horror movie all on its own. It’s no surprise the horror genre enjoys setting itself in and around the world of the young. Things seem to be going great. You have a crush on that cute new teacher when all of a sudden, your friend is really PMS-ey! Wait… is it hormones or a demon? Well, My Best Friend’s Exorcism tackles this very question. Sounds delightful, right? Well, read on!
My Best Friend’s Exorcism follows two friends whose lives are thrown for a loop when a demon possession interrupts their girl’s weekend. High school is already hard enough without having to think about the devil. That’s essentially our plot!
The high school drama is compounded by private, religious school drama… how’s a teen supposed to figure things out? Elsie Fisher, Amiah Miller, Cathy Ang and Rachel Ogechi Kanu co-star in the movie. Damon Thomas directs the film from a script by Jenna Lamia. The film is based on a book by Grady Hendrix.
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My Best Friend’s Exorcism brings an impressive horror crew behind it. Director Damon Thomas worked on everything from Dracula to Penny Dreadful. Meanwhile, the film also touts Christopher Landon as a producer. Primarily known as a writer, Landon is best known to audiences for his work on movies like Freaky, Paranormal Activity and Happy Death Day to U.
With this sharp horror talent behind the camera, it seems surprising that My Best Friend’s Exorcism takes a while to get going. While there are some light horror elements, it is ultimately more than an hour before the scariness gears up.
Instead, the movie is weighed down by horror of a different variety. Teen drama. While Elsie Fisher shines as the likable and sympathetic Abby, the characters (both possessed or not) around her are either mean and unpleasant or absent.
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Ultimately, the only character who comes close to being as likable is Gretchen (Miller). Others have sympathetic moments as the scariness ramps up, but Abby is often painfully alone, and it’s not fun to watch.
Perhaps the film intends to ratchet up the fear by isolating Abby. However, horror still needs to be fun to watch, especially a horror movie playing in the world of 1980s teens. My Best Friend’s Exorcism wants to play in the nostalgia à la Stranger Things, but when all is said and done, much of the fun is missing.
The narrative becomes particularly troubling when Abby comes to believe that Gretchen was, in fact, raped. Fisher follows a true and painful arc as she tries to get her struggling friend help. Perhaps it’s a comment on the 1980s or even on the religious community in which the film is set, but the blatant dismissal of this (and the resulting punishment Abby receives) is hard to watch. This might be trigger warning territory for some.
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This results in a tone best described as off-putting at best. At the same time, My Best Friend’s Exorcism wants to construct a certain amount of comedy. For one thing, the title! At the same time, there’s a bit of silliness happening in the background. The adults here are intriguing, but the film doesn’t want to show it.
A number of interesting grown-up characters populate this world. Unfortunately, though, none receive enough development to fully bring them to life. This results in many feeling like caricatures rather than characters.
ELSIE FISHER stars in MY BEST FRIEND’S EXORCISM Photo: ELIZA MORSE © AMAZON CONTENT SERVICES LLC
This is very notable, particularly in Gretchen’s parents (Nathan Anderson and Cynthia Evans) as well as The Lemon Brothers (Michael Proctor, Michael Wayne Foster and Christopher Lowell). These performers are each harboring delightful comedic performances, but for one reason or another, they aren’t brought forward.
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Through all this, though, Elsie Fisher once again shows herself as one of the best performers coming out of her generation. She established herself as a force to be reckoned with in 2018’s Eighth Grade, and she continues that here.
Fisher brings a unique ability to find a quiet likability and sympathy to any character. For such a young actor, she manages to find the most relatable humanity every time she hits the big screen. She’s a true talent in the up-and-coming generation, and it is exciting to think of the work waiting in the wings for her.
AMIAH MILLER, ELSIE FISHER, CATHERINE JOYCE ANG and RACHEL OGECHI star in MY BEST FRIEND’S EXORCISM Photo: ELIZA MORSE © AMAZON CONTENT SERVICES LLC
Ultimately, I wasn’t sure what to do with My Best Friend’s Exorcism as the final credits rolled. The final finished product comes to the screen with lofty expectations, but it can’t quite manage to stick any of the landings. This movie wants to be a nostalgic teen exorcism horror movie with zany comedy.
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Could these tones work together? Potentially! However, they don’t in this case. As this movie wrapped up, aside from another beautiful performance from Elsie Fisher, I simply found myself reminded of how horrible high school is. That’s something I didn’t need.
My Best Friend’s Exorcism debuts on Amazon Prime Video on September 30.
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A film nerd from my earliest years watching Abbott and Costello, that eventually translated to a Master’s Degree in Film History. I spend my time working on my fiction projects in all their forms, as well as covering film and television.
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Movie Review: MY BEST FRIEND'S EXORCISM (2022) – Geek Girl Authority