Film review: My Best Friend’s Exorcism (Amazon Studios, 2022)

Adam Lowe

Images: Amazon Prime/Premier

Director Damon Thomas’ film My Best Friend’s Exorcism is a cool, darkly funny film that walks the delicate tightrope between genres. Part Mean Girls, part Exorcist, the movie is a compelling exploration of teen friendship and repressed sexuality that hits Amazon on 30 September 2022.

Set in 1988, best friends Abby (Elsie Fisher from Despicable Me) and Gretchen (Amiah Miller from War for the Planet of the Apes) are starting to navigate the… Well, you know how high school movies go. But the twist here is that Gretchen gets possessed, so that her turn as the proverbial Regina George/high school bully has the most ghastly stakes.

As Abby races against the clock to save her best friend, she must confront her own insecurities and the nature of her relationship with bestie Gretchen. None of this is easy when there’s a demonic diva up to no good.

Inevitably, there are plenty of laughs and scares along the way, but Fisher’s Abby stands strong as a horror heroine and Miller’s Gretchen plays subtle menace well. It’s the relationship between these two teenage girls which really sells the movie. Though with less of the overt lesbian lust of Jennifer’s Body, there is a frisson between the two that makes us both love to hate Gretchen and want to see her saved at the end.

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Image: Amazon Prime/Premier

Dragged along for the ride are friends played by Cathy Ang (And Just Like That…) and Rachel Ogechi Kanu (Cheer for Your Life), who round out the core cast and quickly fall victim to Gretchen’s evil schemes. As both characters suffer at the hands of their possessed friend, the film deftly reminds us how our teenage friendships can feel both utterly vital and utterly traumatic at the same time.

With a solid supporting performance from Christopher Lowell (Bash from GLOW) as a peppy mall evangelist-turned-wimpy-exorcist, My Best Friend’s Exorcism has a really strong cast that gives the story the weight it needs to pull off being both silly and scary.

Image: Amazon Prime/Premier

Based on the book of the same name by New York Times best-selling author Grady Hendrix, the script by Jenna Lamia – whose name you might recall from the wonderful TV shows Good Girls and Awkward – is clever and moves along at pace. The dialogue is convincing and smart, without having to be reduced to cheesy zingers, and every scene is well designed, giving the stunning cast plenty to work with.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism is bound to liven up those autumn evenings and makes for an appealing LGBT-friendly Halloween treat. Brightly coloured 80s spirit meshes well with 2020s social commentary, making for a very timely teen-cum-horror movie. This is a very rewarding film that begs to be added to your list of go-to Halloween classics.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/FnXdofVyZTI

About Adam Lowe

Adam Lowe is an award-winning author, editor and publisher from Leeds, now based in Manchester. He runs Dog Horn Publishing and is Director and Writing Coordinator for Young Enigma, a writer development programme for LGBT young people. He sometimes performs as Beyonce Holes.