Elsie Fisher shines as Abby in Prime Video’s “My Best Friend’s Exorcism,” the new horror film based on the novel by Grady Hendrix. It’s their second horror movie this year, after February’s “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” remake, though Fisher tells POPSUGAR they didn’t plan to start starring in so many films in the genre.
“I’ve definitely become a massive horror fan,” they explain. “It’s such an interesting genre and really affects people in this way that you really can’t get with other kinds of films.” Fisher has a theory about why the genre is so popular, especially with young people. “It’s probably a reflection of the state of the world right now,” Fisher guesses about why they’re so drawn to horror films. “I feel like the world is pretty scary at the moment.” Fisher says it’s a genre that has to keep evolving to stay fresh, and it’s “really beautiful” to get to see and be a part of that evolution.
“I think what Abby and Gretchen have specifically is a very special thing that it would be hard to find in real life, and you’d be very lucky if you have it.”
Fisher’s path to “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” started when they met with producer Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, who showed them the cover of the book. “It’s just so sick; it looks like a VHS, and it’s such a killer title,” Fisher says. By the time the script came along, they had read the book and was really drawn to the character of Abby.
In the film, Abby and Gretchen (Amiah Miller) are best friends who attend Catholic school together (though Abby is Jewish). During a lake trip with two of their friends, Gretchen becomes possessed by a demon. It takes Abby some time to figure out what’s going on, but she’s determined to help her friend, no matter what. Their friendship grounds the film, and Fisher says they were originally intimidated by it.
“Creating the friendship with Amiah was something I was scared about in preparation for the film but ended up just really coming to fruition very naturally,” they say. “Amiah and I are very much on the same wavelength, I think, and she’s just really a wonderful, lovely person. . . . We ended up spending so much time together that it would’ve been crazy if we had not become sort of besties.”
Of the relationship in the film, they say, “I think what Abby and Gretchen have specifically is a very special thing that it would be hard to find in real life, and you’d be very lucky if you have it.” It did, however, remind them of some close connections they’ve had with fellow castmates on projects. “You really lift each other up in extenuating circumstances, and that just felt very true to me both in the film and in real life,” they say.
One thing that sets “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” apart from traditional exorcism stories — like, say, “The Exorcist” — is that it’s not religious belief or God that lifts the curse. “It’s really beautiful, and it is one of those things that can sound cliché, friendship saved the day,” Fisher says. The movie is about how people need each other, they explain. “But also in the scope of supernatural things, friendship can also feel like a very religious experience.” The movie isn’t putting down religion either. “The thing that’s really going to save the day is being able to believe in something really, truly, deeply, regardless of what that is,” Fisher explains. “And it ended up being the love between these two girls.” And if the love between the friends sometimes feels not straight, Fisher, who is queer, addressed how the film handles that on Twitter. “I don’t think movies need to explicitly state a character is not straight for that to be the truth . . . In the ’80s especially, I don’t think you always understood what those feelings meant even if they were there,” they wrote. “Idk, I took this all into consideration when playing Abby.”
Fisher’s upcoming slate of projects have kept them very busy — they joined season three of “Barry,” and they’ll appear in the second season of “The Summer I Turned Pretty,” for example — so they try their best to practice self-care, which they think can sometimes be as simple as washing your face and brushing your teeth. They also watch a ton of movies and log them on the film-buff social media site Letterboxd, where their account is private.
Fisher is otherwise pretty active on social media with a very fun Twitter presence, but they try to only post when it feels good. “It did feel like a job when I was a little bit younger because I felt like I had some sort of brand to uphold or something,” they say. “But truly you just have to let that all go. I do get asked a lot about how to keep up a social media presence, and I think the answer is: don’t.” They add, “I use Twitter when it feels like a fun release for me, and once it starts to feel boring or I feel bad about myself, I just stop.”
“My Best Friend’s Exorcism” is streaming now on Prime Video.