In a landscape where Stranger Things has a stranglehold on the ’80s nostalgia horror market, we’ve had plenty of things that try to capture that essence. My Best Friend’s Exorcism started off as a novel by Grady Hendrix and was adapted for the screen by Prime Video. The original novel predates Stranger Things by a couple of months and when you really look at it, there’s no real comparison besides the time period. Once you get that out of the way, My Best Friend’s Exorcism is a fun, albeit truncated adaptation of the novel.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism comes from director Damon Thomas (Killing Eve, Penny Dreadful). Thomas captures a sort of manic energy that fits the time period of the ’80s. He does an admirable job here and the thrills and comedy mesh pretty well. It was written by Jenna Lamia (Good Girls) and based on the novel by Grady Hendrix. The teleplay could have been beefed up more but it hits the beats of the novel pretty well.

It stars Elsie Fisher (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) as Abby, Amiah Miller (War For The Planet Of The Apes) as Gretchen, Cathy Ang (And Just Like That…) as Glee, Rachel Ogechi Kanu as Margaret, and Christopher Lowell (GLOW, Promising Young Woman) as Christian Lemon.

For those that didn’t read the original novel, the story features two best friends, Abby and Gretchen. They do everything together, they’ve been best friends since fourth grade. After a stay at a Lake House and skinny-dipping, something with Gretchen goes wrong. Abby and Gretchen find a strange house in the middle of the woods, and something dark, and evil attacks them. It turns out that Gretchen has been possessed by a demon. That and their friendship is the crux of My Best Friend’s Exorcism.

Starting Off With The Issues With My Best Friend’s Exorcism

My Best Friend’s Exorcism has a couple of issues that drag it down from a surefire hit to a simply good horror adaptation. One is an issue with the adaptation and the story. It takes a really surface-level trip across the plot of the novel and skimps out on some of the better sections where Gretchen is possessed. The film really went for a line between teen comedy and horror, but it doesn’t really do either exceptionally well. It’s funny, but not gut-busting, and it’s scary, but not super scary. It’s rated R by the MPAA, but that’s mostly for teenage drug use and sexually suggestive material.

Being a movie called My Best Friend’s Exorcism, it doesn’t feature a lot of the hallmarks of the “demonic possession” genre. It’s really kind of glossed over how Gretchen turns from a sweet teenage girl into an evil demonic monster. She does some reasonably evil things to her friends, including a horrifying scene involving an allergy. The rest of the film feels like it’s being told by a third party that heard the story. Details are missing, things seem like they’re hurried, and it just feels slightly off.

It just feels like the movie has so much promise with the premise and the setting, that it doesn’t really excel in anything. It’s just reasonably good at everything, but not great anywhere besides a couple of performances. These issues don’t sink the movie, but they keep it from reaching an upper pantheon of horror.

Now For What My Best Friend’s Exorcism Does Exceptionally


The performances and aesthetic of My Best Friend’s Exorcism are what really drive the film The bond and friendship on display between Abby and Gretchen because of the performances of Elsie Fisher and Amiah Miller are the center of the film. They show notable chemistry between each other that can only come from best friends. Amiah Miller does what she can with the material, especially when she’s possessed and she comes off as absolutely devilish when she’s evil. Elsie Fisher already showed off her horror chops in Texas Chainsaw Massacre earlier this year, but she plays the lead here with plenty of vulnerability. It’s a strong performance that really makes you feel for her. She goes through some pretty weighty emotional stress here. It’s a nice reminder of how crappy adolescence is, and then add on top of it that your best friend has been possessed by a demon.

However, when it comes to My Best Friend’s Exorcism, there’s one person and character who absolutely steal the show. I was absolutely floored by Christopher Lowell’s performance as Christian Lemon, the Christian Bodybuilder/Exorcist. The movie picks up when he shows up, and the exorcism scene with him, Abby, and Gretchen veers into the all-time territory. He’s not in the movie for very long, however. But his scenes absolutely steal the show and make it well worth watching. While I was watching, all I could think about was, “I wish this character was in this movie for longer, and where is the spin-off?”.

It was really disappointing when he left because it felt like the movie lost something truly special, but after all, it’s not his story, this is about the power of friendship overcoming the Devil himself. That’s what My Best Friend’s Exorcism does, and it delivers in the end.

Tons Of Promise, Slightly Disappoints

My Best Friend’s Exorcism is the first adaptation of one of Grady Hendrix’s novels, and his brand of horror and humor shine through a bit, but not enough. It gets the job done as an adaptation but doesn’t fully realize the potential this movie had to capture some of that nostalgic ’80s crowd for horror. It has the soundtrack, the look, and the feel, but it doesn’t quite get there because of a script that skips over some portions of the story. Through the performances, the movie really finds something. The cast is the reason to watch My Best Friend’s Exorcism. It’s a lot of fun, but it does have its shortcomings.

You can watch My Best Friend’s Exorcism on Prime Video on September 30th!

For more on horror, make sure to check out Fright-A-Thon, the 61-day Halloween Content Marathon!

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