Want to watch a movie about a girl who plays with an Ouija board and inadvertently summons a demon into our world? No, we’re not talking about The Exorcist; it’s My Best Friend’s Exorcism, a horror-comedy that’s not scary or funny.
My Best Friend’s Exorcism is set in the 80s and follows best friends, Abby Rivers and Gretchen Lang. The two friends are high school sophomores at Aberdeen Academy, a strict Catholic school, that they attend along with their other friends, Margaret Chisolm and Glee Tanaka.
While deciding to spend one weekend up at Margaret’s family lake house, the girls make the cardinal sleepover mistake of messing around with an Ouija board (because playing with Ouija boards always works out for people in horror movies).
While playing with the board, the girls manage to make contact with what they believe to be a spirit from the other side. Before they can finish asking the entity what it wants, Margaret’s boyfriend, Wallace, crashes the party. He convinces the girls to take a hit of acid and then go skinny dipping in the lake.
Eventually, angered by Wallace, Abby and Gretchen go off wandering into the woods and they come across an abandoned house where it was rumored a girl was sacrificed in a satanic ritual.
They decide to go inside (they might as well; they haven’t made a single wise decision this entire trip) and come across a creature inside the desolate cabin. While Abby is fortunate enough to make it out unscathed, Gretchen is not so lucky and finds herself being captured by an unseen force.
After returning home from their trip, Gretchen begins to act unusual. What’s worse, she begins to be plagued by horrific visions. Soon, Gretchen begins to have violent outbursts and she tells of an entity that is slowly attempting to invade her body and soul.
Initially reluctant to believe her friend’s story, Abby instead chooses to believe a much more plausible explanation for her friend’s sudden change in demeanor. But she eventually has to face the very real possibility that something is not right with her friend, especially after she begins to lash out and harm those closest to her.
Finally, convinced that something is seriously wrong with her friend, she contacts the Lemon Brothers, a brotherly trio of religious performers, and speaks to Christian, who informs Abby that he can see entities inside of people and that, while attending Abby’s school, he saw something inside Gretchen.
She and Christian then devise a plan to perform an exorcism to expel the demon inside Gretchen before it’s too late.
Can these two save Gretchen’s soul? Or is there even anything left to save?
The film is based on a book of the same name, but we’re not going to look at the source material and compare the differences between the book and the film; instead, we’re going to look at the film as a separate entity.
Despite My Best Friend’s Exorcism being marketed as an exorcism film, the majority of the film is more about the harmful effects one person can have on another human being. In the case of My Best Friend’s Exorcism, the damage is doled out by the unfortunate soul that has a demonic presence growing inside them.
Where a similar teenage possession film like Jennifer’s Body is more about the gore and body count, My Best Friend’s Exorcism is more about the slow twisting of the knife into someone’s back. Rather than kill them, the film’s antagonist picks apart their insecurities and unwillingly shares their secrets with the world. While this might sound like a fate worse than death, it also unfortunately makes for a slower paced film.
The other issue is that the film never leans into any specific genre. Instead, it skirts around different genres and fails to stay on anything for too long.
The film, which you would assume would dive headfirst into the realm of horror, only dips its toe into this genre. At times throughout the film, you are treated to snippets of horror, including a scene involving a nocturnal visitor, a demonic tapeworm, and a demon from hell, but as quickly as they come, they vanish. My Best Friend’s Exorcism comes close to horror but never takes the leap.
The same could be said for the comedic elements of the film. My Best Friend’s Exorcism throws in some funny moments here and there, but it never embraces the absurd premise of the film like its predecessor, Jennifer’s Body. The movie finally delivers the laughs in the third act with the performance delivered by Christopher Lowell as the overly zealous Christian. But this, too, is fleeting, as the film once again withdraws from comedy and resorts back to its somber tone.
Instead of being a horror comedy, you get a film that primarily focuses on angsty teens, leaving you to wonder who this film is for.
Perhaps the biggest transgression is the film’s ending, where they prove that The Exorcist had it wrong when they attempted to have priests expel the demon. This movie proves you don’t need a bible or God. No, all you need is love to drive out a demon.
While the trailer is set to Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now,” the better song would have been “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis & The News because the overall sense is that love conquers all.
If that wasn’t enough, the final showdown between good and evil involves our protagonists using fire as their primary weapon against a demon because, apparently, fire kills demons. I guess Constantine had it wrong.
On a scale of 1-5 stars, I give this movie 2.5 stars.
My Best Friend’s Exorcism is not a movie you need to see. If you’re a die-hard fan of the book, you might be compelled to watch it, but be warned, it will not live up to your expectations.
My Best Friend’s Exorcism is currently streaming exclusively on Prime Video.
I have come here to chew bubblegum and write horror, and I’m all out of bubblegum.
Senior Editor at Horror Facts