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REVIEW: ‘My Best Friend’s Exorcism’ Summons Demons, Growing Pains and 80’s Camp

Credit: Prime Video

What would you do if your friend was possessed by a demonic entity? 

Self-conscious and kind-hearted Abby Rivers (‘Texas Chainsaw’ alum Elsie Fisher) is plagued by this question in ‘My Best Friend’s Exorcism’, the retro-infused adaptation of Grady Hendrix’s 2016 novel of the same name. Disturbed by the increasingly disturbing and malevolent behavior of her best friend Gretchen (Amiah Miller), Abby races to help her before she is consumed by evil completely, and her friend is lost forever. 

The film begins in 1980s South Carolina, gushing with the over-the-top camp of the time; Abby and Gretchen crush on Boy George, their vibrant and chaotic rooms are plastered with Madonna, and everything—from their clothes to their school binders—is saturated with pinks, greens, and yellows. The best friends are inseparable, finishing each other’s sentences and spending every moment together, from morning until night. Rounding out their friend group are eager-to-fit-in Glee (a loveable Cathy Ang, in a ridiculous wig that somehow perfectly fits in this flick) and the wealthy, self-absorbed, and judgemental Margaret (Rachel Ogechi Kanu). 

My Best Friend's Exorcism
Credit: Prime Video

The group is invited to Maragaret’s lake house. With Twizzlers in their hands, a pizza box on the floor, and Rockwell’s Somebody’s Watching Me appropriately lurking as a backing track, the teens gather around a square oak coffee table. Margaret pulls out every slumber party’s spooky secret weapon—an Oujia board, with which she suggests they summon the spirit of the girl who allegedly died in an abandoned cabin in the surrounding woods years ago. Unnerved, Abby and Gretchen hesitate but eventually relent.

They’re disrupted by Margaret’s skeezy boyfriend, Wallace (‘Stranger Things’ star Clayton Royal Johnson), who joins in on the party and offers the girls acid. Gretchen and Abby are reluctant but drop together, promising that they’ll stay by each other’s side through their trip. After Margaret blurts out a nasty comment about Abby’s acne while they swim in the lake, Abby leaves, storming into the woods. A concerned Gretchen follows, and the two girls find themselves in the aforementioned cabin. Its walls are strewn with cobwebs and Satanic graffiti, and the floors are covered with leaves and trash. The girls, spooked and disturbed, are separated, and, you guessed it—Gretchen becomes possessed by an entity that starts to warp her from the inside out.

My Best Friend's Exorcism
Credit: Prime Video

‘My Best Friend’s Exorcism’ can, in its worst moments, be over-the-top. It isn’t a fantastic horror flick, not one with stellar acting, nor one that will send terror pulsing through your bones—but it will make you feel the awkwardness you probably haven’t felt since middle or high school, and that’s enough for me. 

Scenes that come later in the film—from ten-feet long stomach acid-soaked tapeworms to Gretchen’s Linda Blair-inspired projectile vomiting—pack a punch. They make for a memorable, fun little horror film that recalls the gross-out elements of ‘Jennifer’s Body’ and the feminine growing pains of ‘Ginger Snaps’ and ‘Heathers’. 

You know these girls, have been friends with people like them at some point in your youth—and you’ve probably been Abby, who, as always, Elsie Fisher nails. Her discomfort in her body, her empathy, and dedication to her best friend (even when Gretchen is humiliating her by telling their whole class that Abby’s into the young priest at their Catholic school) give the film heart.  ‘My Best Friend’s Exorcism’ is a fun but awkward, campy nod to growing up, the pain of friendships changing and dissipating, and facing your own demons as you reach adulthood.

‘My Best Friend’s Exorcism’ is now streaming on Prime Video. 

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My Best Friend's Exorcism
REVIEW: ‘My Best Friend’s Exorcism’ Summons Demons, Growing Pains and 80’s Camp
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