2022, Movies

My Best Friend’s Exorcism (2022, Damon Thomas)

This is a messy horror comedy – messy in the sense of execution, not in terms of gore – that has some good ideas and good moments but is just not very good. I laughed enough I almost bumped up my rating but the problems are big enough I thought better of it.


So let’s start with the good. I laughed. There are some parts where I laughed a bunch. And Jenn thought the makeup on the teens was pretty period-appropriate and there are other aspects of the sense of place that are (mostly) done well. (I say “mostly” because a few times they use 21st century language like “You got this.”) Though the cast doesn’t have any big names, they do a good job. (And some really do feel like poor man’s actors, such as a poor woman’s Amanda Seyfried as Gretchen.) And the soundtrack is full of ’80s songs, sometimes used to humous effect.

But there are a lot of indications that this is not a big budget movie. The CGI is pretty bad, not the worst I’ve ever seen but very noticeable and in the climax it is a major problem. There are also some continuity errors, for example the cross in Gretchen’s house that doesn’t affect her when a cross on the stage, farther away, does affect her in an earlier scene. And then there’s the whole tapeworm thing where they get it backwards. There are enough of these problems that you can’t really forget them when you aren’t laughing.

And that brings us to the biggest problem: I’m not sure the filmmakers knew what they wanted this to be. There are some tonal shifts (or maybe just scenes with no jokes!). And this doesn’t really feel like an exorcism movie a lot of the time. Now, I haven’t watched many of the new wave of exorcism movies but it does feel like this one violates the conventions of the classic exorcism film, and only rarely comments on those. (Though it does in the climax, which I guess is a good thing.) When Gretchen is possessed, she sometimes behaves like a classic possessed person from the movies of the past – such as when she pukes or when she pees in the trashcan – and then she doesn’t, as when she just turns into a bitch. But the climax is worse, where the demon literally materializes and they have to fight him. He doesn’t look real – Jenn thought he looked like Gollum – and that’s not an exorcism.

There are things that work. I really think the idea of some doofus who is lifting weights for God playing the role of a priest is a good gag that works. And that aspect of the film mostly works. It’s possible it would work better with a better actor or a better script, but it works. I laughed a bunch and I genuinely believe that’s a good premise. But they don’t stick with it – he literally just leaves the film – and it’s just too minor a part of the film.

I think the whole thing is a missed opportunity.


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