Abby (Elsie Fisher) and Gretchen (Amiah Miller) are best friends. They go to the same Catholic school, kiss the same poster, and support one another. They make room for their other two friends, Glee (Cathy Ang) and Margaret (Rachel Ogechi Kanu), though mostly it's Abby and Gretchen, the movie focuses on. Gretchen is about to move away to another state, but My Best Friend's Exorcism is not interested in a teary let's-hang-out-together-for-one-last-time goodbye. As the title suggests, director Damon Thomas' film is about exorcism. That means the best friend is getting possessed, and that friend is Gretchen.
The moments leading up to the mentioned possession are snappy, funny, and effervescent. The whole movie moves with a breezy rhythm that prevents it from becoming dull. The scene where Gretchen and Abby come across the demon is filmed with some competence, as a manipulative voice separates the two friends. My Best Friend's Exorcism sees demonic possession as rape, and if you think about it, it's precisely that. In both cases, an unwanted creature forces himself on you to penetrate your body.
Another interesting thing about the movie is that it reveals how cruel teenagers can be to themselves as well as others. Glee is gay, and Margaret wants to lose weight. When Gretchen exploits these things about them for sadistic pleasures, you don't see a demon playing tricks but a teen bullying other students. Perhaps, the movie wants to convey that we should not consider kids to be too pure and innocent. With respect to children, some people and parents tend to be as close-minded as conservatives. They think of their child as the most guileless human on the earth when in reality, he/she might be aware of much more adult things, including drugs.
I can think or overthink as much as I want. However, that won't change the fact that this movie has some serious flaws. The jokes don't land, and the quirkiness feels forced. After shocking us with potentially fatal moments, including one with peanut allergy and another with Margaret's body obsession, the movie pushes us to gulp down light-hearted scenes like the one with a yogurt-eating Lemon brother. The exorcism towards the end with high-fives and an emotional moment is neither spooky nor heartfelt. Yes, it's not funny, either. My Best Friend's Exorcism is not capable enough to blend humor with horror. In the midst of all this, Gretchen's peeing scene sticks out like a sore thumb. It doesn't look sad or silly, or wacky. It's just there without any feeling.
The young actors are excellent, though. If you have watched Eighth Grade, then I don't need to tell you that Fisher is a good actor. I was pleasantly impressed by Miller, Cathy, and Ogechi Kanu. If you don't throw up your hands and declare the film to be ridiculous, that's because these actors do their jobs with sincerity and fervor. It's a pity that the movie doesn't quite live up to the actors' talents.
Final Score – [5.5/10]
Reviewed by - Vikas Yadav
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