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Review: ‘My Best Friend’s Exorcism’ is the Right Amount of Horror and Comedy

Review: ‘My Best Friend’s Exorcism’ is the Right Amount of Horror and Comedy

If you’re a fan of all things 1980s, you’re in for a thrill. So grab your volumizing hair spray, leg warmers, and possibly an exorcist, because this New York Times best-selling author’s spooky tale is coming to life. 

Grady Hendrix’s ’80s-based novel My Best Friend’s Exorcism is now on the big screen. In the film, Abby, Gretchen, and their gal pals are the typical teenage crew. The girls juggle school, boys, and self-image. While trying to have a night of fun, the girls end up getting way more than they bargained for. The fun reverses when a simple ouija board game goes awry. After playing the game, Gretchen suddenly switches from ally to the enemy when her inner demon challenges her friends’ insecurities and weaknesses. Ultimately, Gretchen becomes possessed by a demon that only her friends and the local exorcist/exercise guru Christian can rid her of. 

My Best Friend’s Exorcism has both a comedic ’80s vibe and a mild horror undertone. It’s the best of both worlds when a horror film can also be interpreted as comedy. This film relies on humor to lighten up darker circumstances by making what one may interpret as terror-stricken funny. 

What makes this film work

What makes this film well-thought-out is its mixture of comedy and horror occurring at the most deliberate times. 

Horror and comedy are polar opposite genres, making it difficult to mesh the two. It can be easy for one genre to overpower the other or generally not go well together. Some horror-comedies will gravitate toward comedy or remain a horror film entirely. My Best Friend’s Exorcism generates the right amount of horror and comedy in specific scenes to create the perfect horror-comedy. 

Characters like the gym enthusiast exorcist, otherwise known as one of the Lemon Brothers, provide comic relief to the more thrilling and edge-of-your-seat moments in the film. When the exorcist abruptly leaves midway through the exorcism, Abby is left to exorcize her friend alone. This comedic relief is inserted at the appropriate time because it occurs at the film’s climax, which is Gretchen’s exorcism. 

Experienced with religion and the afterlife, Christian Lemon’s approach to tackling Gretchen’s demon is rather light-hearted and humorous. Although Christian claims to have no experience in performing exorcisms, he says he saw one performed. It’s quite humorous for Christian to claim expertise in something he’s never done before and come off believable to Abby. While planning the exorcism, Christian’s mind seems to wander elsewhere as if he’s not interested. His lack of motivation helps to expand the humor in the film. 

Not only are the characters humorous by their words, they’re also humorous by their mannerisms. The act of showing disinterest in a severe predicament is used as comedy. The director uses the juxtaposition of having a religious exercise guru perform an exorcism only to stop halfway to let an average schoolgirl get the job done. To create humor and increase the suspense levels, an amateur is performing an exorcist alone when Christian leaves. Through this, the viewer is left to wonder whether the exorcism is going to work or whether Abby even knows what to do next.

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What if there were more to the story?

My Best Friend’s Exorcism is a short, straight-to-the-point type feature. It’s often difficult to make a film adaptation live up to its book. Although the film was filled with humor, ’80s culture, and minor suspenseful moments, there could have been more. 

The series of unfortunate events that occur with Gretchen’s friends prior to her exorcism are short-lived. It would’ve been beneficial to the film had there been a deeper dive into the insecurities and misfortune that Gretchen’s friends face due to her supernatural influence. 

Gretchen targets her friends’ insecurities during her possession. Her demon side intentionally targets the weaknesses of each of her friends. The storyline with Gretchen’s friend’s weight insecurity and the nut allergy were vague occurrences that didn’t thicken the plot as much as they should have. Instead, these events served as minor additions to the movie. Highlighting the level of power and negative energy Gretchen gained after her possession, by focusing more on her declining friendships, would have thickened the plot. 

Her friends all experience random unfortunate events in their lives. Are her friends aware of Gretchen’s wrongdoings? Do they know her wrongdoings are the result of a demon and not a broken friendship? These questions do not get answered. In doing so, there would have been multiple strong storylines, not just the main storyline of a possessed schoolgirl. Gretchen’s friend’s nut allergy and weight issues could have been pivotal moments needed to stir the plot. Gretchen is so powerfully possessed by a demon that she targets her friend’s insecurities but seems to get away with it. 

So, is it worth watching?

This Grady Hendrix story accurately captures the vibes of the ’80s with a slight horror undertone. The opening scene sets the tone with classic songs. Any fan of light-hearted jokes and movies like Teen Witch will enjoy My Best Friend’s Exorcism. It’s a quality film. Although straight to the point, the comedy in this movie is well-executed and strategically placed in several scenes. Each time the suspense and horror grows, a random comedic phenomenon was sure to follow. 

My Best Friend’s Exorcism is now available for viewing on Prime Video. 

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