My Best Friend’s Exorcism
My Best Friend’s Exorcism starts strong with interesting concepts and then loses its edge in the third act. It blends science, religion, the supernatural, everyday high-school drama, and teenage insecurities – very much like Stephen King’s Carrie. Set in the 1980s, the film uses the period’s cultural aspects to frame the events taking place: using drugs – particularly LSD – creates a divide between fantasy and reality; artists such as A-ha and Boy George set the tone, alongside the props and costumes. Even the score leading up to the jump scares has that 80s synth quality to it, keeping in tune with the rest of the picture’s aesthetic. Authentic colloquialisms also add to the world-building with derogatory slang further enhancing the crass discrimination of minorities.
What makes this feature such a fascinating watch is the way it grounds the events to real-life sensations and emotions. It uses the bonds of friendship to separate and force the characters into horror situations, playing with teenage immaturity and fallouts to set the stage for supernatural occurrences. And these aren’t just a result of a ghostly entity either – there are scientific explanations and human motivations behind them. It’s very much like the Carrie effect: revenge by annihilation, and using science to explain the supernatural.
Unfortunately, this method can often cross certain lines, for example, likening the possession of Gretchen (Amiah Miller) to sexual assault. When Abby (Elsie Fisher) tries to reason Gretchen’s PTSD is a result of rape, everyone dismisses her concern. By giving Gretchen’s very real PTSD a supernatural twist, it undermines the idea that sexual assault does happen and people can dismiss it – because it’s giving an alternative excuse for her behaviour. Furthermore, the final act’s use of a CGI monster completely diminishes the rest of the production’s effort to stay grounded.
Highlights include the use of cinematography and landscape to show how varied fear can be. Long, narrow hallways indicate suffocation, and a vast forest field with trees elicits the feeling of being small, lost and swallowed up by the environment. Symmetry on Gretchen – middle of the hallway, middle of the bed – zeroes in on her possession. And despite the end credits stating what the characters are doing post the events of the film, the one-liner at the end, “How do we know he’s gonna stay gone” opens a possibility for a sequel.
My Best Friend’s Exorcism is released on Amazon Prime Video on 30th September 2022.
Watch the trailer for My Best Friend’s Exorcism here: