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Film Review: “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” Successfully Meshes Teen Drama and Horror

Written by: Matt Patti | September 30th, 2022

Film poster: “My Best Friend’s Exorcism”

My Best Friend’s Exorcism (Damon Thomas, 2022) 3 out of 4 stars.

There is a vast selection of horror films that involve high-school students. In fact, I’d even argue and say the vast majority do. Maybe there’s something about children on the verge of adulthood being affected by horrific stimuli that is simply more disturbing and scarier than full-grown adults dealing with comparable situations. Similarly, several teen dramas include dangerous dares, eerie urban legends, and other horror-esque elements in the plot. So, perhaps, horrors and the unknown are just more prevalent and more likely to be explored by children than adults. Either way, many films involve a combination of teens and horror. However, very few of these films are able to elegantly weave everyday high-school drama with terrifying external forces. Thankfully, My Best Friend’s Exorcism is one of the few to accomplish this feat, masterfully intertwining the horrors of high school with something even more frightening.

In the film, teen best friends Abby (Elsie Fisher, Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and Gretchen (Amiah Miller, The Water Man) find it difficult to overcome the inevitable fact that, after their senior year concludes, they’ll be separated when Gretchen goes off to college. The two are inseparable, having been friends since fourth grade, sharing everything with each other and trusting one another completely. The two join a few other friends for a weekend of fun at a lake house. While there, Gretchen wants to have one last adventure with Abby and suggests exploring an old house where a satanic sacrifice supposedly once took place. Abby reluctantly tags along, but they both get spooked and run out of the house, though they take separate paths to do so. Upon their return to school, Abby starts to notice that Gretchen is different. She’s irritable, grumpy, and performs actions she would normally never do. Also, tragic events begin to take place any time she’s around. Can Abby discover what is really happening to Gretchen and save her friend before it’s too late?

Elsie Fisher and Amiah Miller in MY BEST FRIEND’S EXORCISM. Photo: Eliza Morse ©Amazon Content Services LLC

Taking place in 1988, the film embraces the era and manages to capture an old-time look and feel. Itis very stylized, with specific editing choices that show some impressive flair. The cinematography is excellent and so is the sound design and soundtrack selection, perfectly fitting the mood. All the technical elements are superb and shine throughout. In my opinion, though, it’s the characters that really make this film great. Each cast member, across the board, gives an exceptional performance, but especially Fisher and Miller. Their chemistry together works very well, and the dynamic between Abby and Gretchen is one of the film’s biggest strengths. The supporting characters are also very compelling, and, more importantly, identifiable. So many supporting characters in other films get stuck in the mud and fade into the background, but not in this film.

The environment in which this film takes place is quite intriguing. Our characters attend a very religious school, where there is constant talk about God, good vs evil, and the like. The irony of having that backdrop be the main setting for a girl who is possessed by an evil force is a fantastic choice, and one that ups the ante in terms of the film’s overarching themes. Director Damon Thomas (making his feature debit after many years doing television) is able to achieve great tension through many suspenseful scenes that conjure up an authentic feeling of danger, and it affects the audience emotionally because we care about the majority of these characters. Layered, compelling characters + genuine suspense = great emotional payoff.

Elsie Fisher in MY BEST FRIEND’S EXORCISM. Photo: Eliza Morse ©Amazon Content Services LLC

My Best Friend’s Exorcism does have a few opportunities for improvement, however. The film offers some comedic aspects and, while most of them work in the third act, the first two acts are largely devoid of humor, resulting in a bit of a jarring tone shift near the last third. There is also one specific part of the conclusion that involves a very strange and, quite frankly, laughable decision that is legitimately the only item in the film that I feel is devoid of logic and immensely baffling. Overall, though, My Best Friend’s Exorcism is a very welcome addition to the ever-popular teen-horror genre.


Matt Patti has enjoyed voicing his opinions on films from a young age. He has lived in the Baltimore, Maryland, area since 2015 and is a graduate of Stevenson University’s Film & Moving Image program. Matt is currently back at Stevenson University, working as the School of Design, Arts, and Communication's Studio Manager.

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