In ‘80s-set horror-comedy, My Best Friend’s Exorcism, best buds Abby and Gretchen head to a cabin in the woods to hang out with their friends. Here they do various things that no one in a horror movie should ever do (play with a Ouija board, drop acid, go skinny dipping, etc), before they decide to explore an abandoned, derelict house (another horror movie no-no).
Once inside the house, Abby and Gretchen become spooked by a noise. Upon further investigation, they believe they see something supernatural lurking in one of the rooms, which causes them to panic and run.
Gretchen stumbles and falls, and this separates the two girls. Unfortunately, Abby doesn’t notice Gretchen’s faux pas and it is not until Abby has run far from the house that she realises she has left her best friend behind.
After regrouping with her other mates, Abby returns to the house, where the gang discover a clearly very distressed Gretchen. However, they chalk her emotional state up to a bad LSD trip, and head home.
But a few days later, Gretchen begins to display worrying behaviour. This behaviour begins to put a strain on her relationship with Abby, and suggests something is seriously wrong.
Is Gretchen going through a few hormonal changes in her teenage years or is there something more sinister in play? And can her friendship survive what appears to be a demonic transformation, which is both destructive to herself and those around her?
Directed by Damon Thomas, My Best Friend’s Exorcism stars Elsie Fisher and Amiah Miller. The movie is based on the novel of the same name by Grady Hendrix, and has just been added to Amazon Prime Video.
The film is a teen-centric high school horror, which looks at the relationship between its two central characters, Abby and Gretchen. In the movie, their relationship is put to the test when Gretchen experiences a supernatural awakening in the woods, which alters her personality and puts her at odds with her friend.
In terms of its story, the film is very much a tale about demonic possession. It is a story about a girl who changes her mood and attitude because of a chance encounter with something spooky.
However, this possession is used as a metaphor for puberty and adolescence. My Best Friend’s Exorcism is as much about a demon as it is about cliques, bitchiness, and the horrors of high school, and it manages to intertwine its subject matter and themes rather well.
It’s a shame then, that I must tell you that despite its best efforts, My Best Friend’s Exorcism is only ‘so-so’. The film isn’t bad and has many of the right components, it just doesn’t bring them together in the right way and this is a bit frustrating.
Following a rather slow start, things get off the ground once Gretchen becomes possessed and this is when the film hits its stride. Gretchen starts to become a real bitch, causing havoc for her friends, and it is here where the movie takes on shades of Heathers (1989) and The Craft (1996).
But this all feels rather short-lived, and either side of this section of the movie, the film has difficulties getting into any kind of groove. There are certainly some decent moments, so I’m not going to poo-poo this picture too much, but I do believe it struggles to reach its full potential.
There are jokes, but the humour is never funny enough. There’s some horror, but nothing which is going to really scare anyone.
The best scene in the movie involves a tapeworm, and this scene is genuinely quite stomach churning. However, this sequence is all too brief, and there’s nothing quite as interesting anywhere else in the film.
The movie also struggles with pacing, and this becomes a significant issue. For a relatively short movie (it runs less than 100 minutes), My Best Friend’s Exorcism drags in places and really could be tighter in the story department.
However, despite these shortcomings, the cast are all on fine form, the tone and vibe of the film works well enough, and it has clearly been put together by a director with a genuine desire to tell a really good story. It doesn’t quit hit all the targets its aiming for, but it’s not a failure.
I expect My Best Friend’s Exorcism will appeal more to teens than it will to adults (especially young Stranger Things fans), as too much of this movie has been done before, and arguably slightly better, but it is a decent effort. The story has enough ideas in here to carry things along, and I’m pretty sure the soundtrack and the copious amounts of big hair and hoop earrings will work for those desperate to return to the ‘80s.
But it doesn’t really work for me, and I largely see this as a middle-of-the road affair. It’s fine in places, and I expect it will find the right audience, but it could (and should) have been much more.
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