Though many of them weren’t even alive in the 1980s, the cast of “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” said it was a dream come true to recreate the era for their new film.
Now streaming on Amazon Prime Video, the horror-comedy held its world premiere Thursday night at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica as part of the 2022 Beyond Fest Film Festival. The afterparty was held at Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier, where guests could play carnival games and feast on funnel cakes and nachos.
Based on Grady Hendrix’s novel with a screenplay by Jenna Lamia, “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” is directed by Damon Thomas and centers on best friends Abby (Elsie Fisher) and Gretchen (Amiah Miller), who are struggling with high school when another challenge is thrown their way — Gretchen begins exhibiting signs of demonic possession. In desperation she turns to Christian Lemon (Christopher Lowell), a wannabe evangelist who tours the mall and local schools preaching the word of God and physical fitness.
Fisher said they were excited to join a film set in such a specific time period. “It was pretty sick,” they enthused. “Our culture right now sort of sensationalizes the ’80s, so I think it’s pretty much every actor’s dream.” Echoed Miller, “I’ve always loved the ’80s and the music and the colors and the hair.”
Clayton Royal Johnson, who plays a fellow high school student, said he went into shooting the film straight from Season 4 of “Stranger Things,” also set in the same decade. “I already had a mullet,” he noted. “I’ve been living in the ’80s for about 2 years.”
Rachel Ogechi Kanu and Cathy Ang, who play friends of the duo, said being on the set was surreal. Kanu called it “an immersive experience” as the production designer recreated the era down to the tiniest details. Ang said the first thing she did upon arriving to set was put on her wig. “I was like, ‘Whoa!’ It’s my mom!” Ang joked, before pointing out her mother in the audience. Thomas then added, “When Chris got his wig on, it was like my mom.”
Lowell referred to his scene stealing role as a fun ’80s trope he was happy to be a part of: “If you think that these guys are kind of the Brat Pack of the film and they all do a really grounded job in the ’80s, you’ve also got to have a Biff or a Doc Brown — some batshit crazy, off the walls character. That was fun as hell.”