Back to the ‘80s: In conversation with Damon Thomas
Filmmaker Damon Thomas takes a nostalgic walk down the ‘80s while discussing his horror comedy, My Best Friend’s Exorcism
Damon Thomas is a fan of horror, and his filmography clearly corroborates his love for the genre. His directorial credits include numerous horror shows like Penny Dreadful, Lightfields, Crooked House, and Riveria. His latest film, the Prime Video original, My Best Friend’s Exorcism, is right up his alley. “I have also done Dracula for Netflix, which shares a similar tonality. So yes, I am a fan of horror comedies,” Damon says.
Sharing that he enjoys both serious horror and horror comedies, Thomas says, “I can't pick just one of them. However, I stay away from slasher films; they are not my thing. I am more into psychological horror films. It’s all about building the mood up to something huge. One of my all-time favourite horror films is Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980), which, I believe, has stood the test of time.” The filmmaker also acknowledges the influence of William Friedkin’s The Exorcist (1973) on the horror genre. “The Exorcist is a benchmark and films about exorcism are invariably judged by the standards set by the classic. The Exorcist presented the rule book for all things exorcism in cinema.”
An adaptation of Grady Hendrix’s 2016 novel by the same name, My Best Friend’s Exorcism follows two close friends, Abby Rivers (Elsie Fisher) and Gretchen Lang (Amiah Miller), and mishaps that occur when the latter gets possessed by a demonic spirit. The film majorly relies on its ‘80s milieu to set itself apart from contemporary exorcism films. It is a choice that works in favour of the film’s flavour, both visually and tonally. The filmmaker shares a strong connection with that era. “That was my decade,” he says, smiling. “I love films set in the past. As someone who grew up in that period, it is a huge nostalgic trip for me. We often think of the ‘80s as simpler times; there were no internet and mobile phones. We weren’t exposed to cynical views. Now, one can be exposed to 400 cynical views in a day. In a way, the world was smaller. If you had to meet someone, you would call them up, put the phone down and go to meet them. There was no sense of immediacy, to say. One had to rely on their parents, television and encyclopedias for information,” the filmmaker adds.
The film also pays a beautiful and humorous homage to the ‘80s cinema with an outro text summarising the arcs of all the primary characters, played to the classic ‘Karma Chameleon’ by Culture Club and one can sense that the music choice clearly emanates from the filmmaker’s love for the music from the ‘80s. “I love the music from that period. Also, if you liked a band back in the day, it was almost impossible to find out more about them. Watching particular shows on television was the only way to learn more about them. Yes, those were simpler times, indeed,” the filmmaker concludes.