Review of the New Horror Movie

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3 The Thrill is Gone

MY BEST FRIEND’S EXORCISM: Review of the New Horror Movie

My Best Friend’s Exorcism (2022) mashes up 1980s teen movies with The Exorcist (1973) and does neither justice. The film careens through frailly sketched plotlines and half-baked characters never able to settle on a tone that suits it. 


Elsie Fisher (left) and Amiah Miller in “MY BEST FRIEND’S EXORCISM” (Eliza Morse/Amazon)
It’s the suburbs of 1988. Best friends Abby (Elsie Fisher) and Gretchen (Amiah Miller) are trying to live their best lives before Gretchen moves. The two have been inseparable for years. They talk in acronyms and inside jokes and defend each other from the ravages of high school. One weekend, their friend Margaret (Rachel Ogechi Kanu) invites them to her family’s lake house. Together with their other friend Glee (Cathy Ang) and a surprise appearance from Margaret’s horndog boyfriend Wallace (Clayton Royal Johnson), they work at finding an epic weekend somewhere out in the woods. Instead, Abby and Gretchen find a murder house, and Gretchen leaves the girls’ trip with a demon. 
At home, Gretchen spirals out, becoming a funhouse mirror version of herself. She insults her friends and lashes out at everyone around her. When Abby tries to reach out, Gretchen sows discord to isolate her best friend from everyone else. Slowly, Abby realizes what’s going on and works to find a way to save Gretchen. The solution? Nothing short of a good old-fashioned exorcism. 

The Thrill is Gone

Elsie Fisher in “MY BEST FRIEND’S EXORCISM” (Eliza Morse/Amazon)
Grady Hendrix, who wrote the novel My Best Friend’s Exorcism, has carved out a lane in horror of remixing classics. Horrorstör reimagines a haunted house yarn inside an IKEA stand-in. The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires pits a group of middle-aged southern belles against an invading bloodsucker. My Best Friend’s Exorcism fashions a demonic possession tale that fits snugly inside a milieu reminiscent of Heathers (1988). Hendrix is a pro who understands a remix only works when the story around the archetypes and tropes succeeds. Unfortunately, in adapting him, screenwriter Jenna Lamia and director Damon Thomas have failed to do so. 
Lamia and Thomas attempt to squeeze a 336-page novel into a sub-two-hour runtime. Adaptation always requires trimming and refashioning. However, it seems Lamia pulled in all the major plot points but left other bits like compelling character development and pacing on the bookshelf. The movie story of My Best Friend’s Exorcism is hollow, held together by clichés and a prayer. Abby and Gretchen have hardly any traits beyond being best friends and sharing a penchant for eye-rolling their Catholic school. Yes, they love Boy George, but that’s barely a distinguisher for two teenagers in 1988. Even when the demon shows up, the screenplay hits only the obvious beats without any room for real play. 
It scarcely helps that Thomas directs My Best Friend’s Exorcism like a forgettable episode of Stranger Things.  Bright colors, 1980s B-movie reference points, and neigh an original bit of image-making in sight. Thomas does not even have an effective reservoir of nostalgia-inducing cues that the former employs to glaze over rough patches. Much like Lamia’s screenplay, Thomas piles on worn out trappings that neither amplify the teen dramedy nor horror at hand. For a story about an exorcism, it is shockingly tedious.

Rare Bright Spots

Amiah Miller in “MY BEST FRIEND’S EXORCISM” (Amazon)
As is sometimes the miraculous case in these train wrecks, some performers can shine through. Fisher is effortlessly empathetic, a quality she has exemplified since breaking through in Eighth Grade (2018). With a better movie around her, she could have done wonders as a desperate friend ready to battle a demon. As her counterpart, Miller is a joy as Gretchen. Miller has the meatiest scenes to play with, her post-demon struggles allowing a showcase of both her dramatic chops and ability to turn on the mean girl animosity. Like Fisher, she has been wonderful for years. One can only hope the two can consider My Best Friend’s Exorcism a blip and move along.
Unfortunately, apart from Fisher and Miller, none of the cast is handed worthwhile material to work with. Ang and Kanu, the only two women of color in the principal cast, are sidelined as talking plot devices. Johnson seems to have comic delivery, but all of his jokes seem cribbed from second-rate sex comedies. Even the collection of hapless parents, usually a genre staple one can rely on for a few stray giggles, recede into a hazy backdrop. 


Amiah Miller, Elsie Fisher, Cathy Ang, and Rachel Ogechi Kanu in “MY BEST FRIEND’S EXORCISM” (Eliza Morse/Amazon)
It is a special sort of shame when an adaptation of a wonderful novel, backed by a studio no-less, ends up as a dreadful film. Let the power of Christ compel you away from My Best Friend’s Exorcism.

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MY BEST FRIEND’S EXORCISM: A Review Of The New Comedy/Horror FilmMy Best Friend’s Exorcism (2022) mashes up 1980s teen movies with The Exorcist (1973) and does neither justice. The film careens through frailly sketched plotlines and half-baked characters never able to settle on a tone that suits it. 

It’s the suburbs of 1988. Best friends…

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