Halloween Advent: My Best Friend’s Exorcism (2022)

Rating 15
Length 1h37
Release 30.09.2007
Director Damon Thomas
About In 1988 best friends Abby and Gretchen navigate boys, pop culture and a paranormal force clinging to Gretchen. With help from a mall exorcist, Abby is determined to compel the demon back to the pits of hell — if it doesn’t kill Gretchen first.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime


  • It is a slow burn plot. It absolutely pays off, but you have to stick with the set up and some viewers out there today do not have the attention. Especially when you add the fact that this film is not getting a cinema release.
  • Anyone with 80’s nostalgia fatigue would do well to steer clear of this one. Yes, there’s an somewhat timeless tone that would forgive you if you assumed it was modern day with the 80s fashion back in style. However those who are tired of the era being used in every film and tv show since Stranger Things, will perhaps want to pop this to one side.
  • The nighttime scenes are made for a cinema. I lost a lost of the action during those scenes. Combine this with the slow burn, and you might just zone out before it gets good.


  • This film is Jennifer’s Body meets Fight Night, in all the right ways.
  • The 80s era, the bright colour and pop songs. It all contrasts with the darkness and sinister chill that everyone watching it there to see beautifully.
  • The friendship ups and downs really resinated with me, as I’m sure it will with others. The film tackles some fairly weighty issues that are really quite cleverly approved and resolved.
  • Christopher Lowell is always a joy on a project, but in this case he steals the show. Almost to the point that I wish he was much more involved.
  • The two leads, Elsie Fisher and Amish Miller are one’s to watch. While a slow burn is not my favourite type of film, the two girls and their friendship has me invested from the very start.

Final Thoughts

It’s a decent watch. Perhaps not quite as good as Freaky, but it will certainly give you enough goosebumps to see you through the spooky season.

X Files – I Want to Believe (2008)

Rating 15
Length 1h 44
Release 1.8.2008
Director Chris Carter
About Though FBI special agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and his partner Dr. Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) once chased things that go bump in the night, his tireless search for the truth out there has led to his professional exile. However, a missing-persons case leads to the agents’ reunion, along with an encounter with a priest (Billy Connolly) who may or may not be experiencing psychic visions.

First Things First

Right now, I’m sat kicking myself for not seeing this in the cinema. I worked there, for Mulder’s sake. I actually have a vivid memory. An almost ‘Sliding Doors’ moment in which I was done for the evening and the last showing of the day was about to begin. I passed up on the opportunity.
Now, it’s at this point I should clarify, I was possibly one of the strangest ‘fans’. I was such a fan that I wore a Mulder and Scully watch for at least 4 years, even though I’d probably only seen a handful of episodes.
Yeah, I was 8 years old when Scully was sent to spy on Mulder, so I was only allowed to press record on the VCR and watch up until that distinctive theme song. It wasn’t until 1996 or so when it had moved to Saturday nights, that I saw my first full episode. Can you imagine it; being banned from watching the show, but being bought the merch by the same parent?! Then again, this was the same person who, without fail, would buy me a board game every Christmas and refuse to play it with me. Go figure.
Much like a lot of my teens fandoms; Buffy, Star Trek and Angel… I fell a little out of love with X Files. I’d not taken it upon myself to do a rewatch (or a first watch) and I just felt very disengaged in 2008.
However, it’s now 2021. I’ve spent the last few months watching all 9 seasons, and one movie, leading up to this one. I’d been dreading it, I won’t lie.

The Good

  • It’s X Files. Even with its flaws, I’m in. You’re giving me Mulder and Scully. You’re in theory giving me together Mulder and Scully. What’s not to love. It certainly has its moments that will have any fan happy. When they’re together on screen, its frigging awesome.
  • It’s a story that is that perfect middle ground. It’s the supernatural rather than the mythology that, at times, bogged the show down. I love the alien shit, but I think the fatal flaw of the franchise is that it wavered too much on that line of ‘are the aliens real?’. At least this keeps it conspiracy lite. Well, except for the priest with a taste for choir boys.
  • Speaking of the whole pedophilia subplot. It was a powerful thing to address considering this would have still been a rather raw subject, for American viewers in particular. The Boston sex abuse scandal was only exposed in 2002. I’m sure Carter was trying to say something profound about this dirty secret of the Catholic Church. I’m not sure it works completely, but damn I’m still impressed he tried.
  • The editing in the opening was excellent. It was unsettling and lacking context, but it worked. It was something very different to what we’ve come to expect of X Files and it really got my attention.
  • Billy Connolly, while giving me the creeps, was a delight to see on screen. Rather strange to see him without his beard, but given his character I was glad of that disassociation.

The Bad

  • I struggled with Scully’s B-Plot storyline. It felt a little too contrived and almost a plot device hiding in plain sight. The film needed a bit of a change in editing (Like, don’t give me shifty looks to the Father, when the other one was a convicted pedophile, and not give me a resolution to that either way). It’s a shame, because when Gillian Anderson’s scenes worked, it was powerful.
  • This is the ‘ship that coined the term ‘shipping’. So why the fuck does the film play them off against each other for most of the movie?! Why, after EVERYTHING Scully has seen, is she still a skeptic? Both the relationship, and Scully herself are completely devolved to fit the narrative. It does all fans a disservice.
  • Our new Mulder/Scully, Dogget/Reyes. I don’t get them and they’re booted out of the script halfway through. While I adore Amanda Peet and she does an amazing job, put Agent Monica Reyes in that role and it blows the whole thing open and adds investment.
    Then there’s Xzibit as Agent Drummy as the overly-aggressive skeptic. The biggest problem being that there’s no chemistry between him and Mulder…. so he just ends up shouting.

The Ugly

  • That fucking beard! What the fuck, man?! I get that the film was trying to show that Mulder was not the same, but did we really need him to wear such a bad joke-shop stick-on beard?! It was cheap, it was tacky and it lasted so much of the movie.

Final Thoughts

There are worse episodes that feel way longer than this outing. It is flawed and I did shout “Oh, fuck off Scully.” At the tv screen. Something I’ve not done since mid-series 3.
As much as this was made as a stand alone to bring in the uninitiated, I doubt the franchise would gain any fans from watching this first.

Film Review: Simon Birch (1998)

Length: 1hr 54

Rating: PG

Release: 25th June 1999

About: Simon Birch (Ian Michael Smith) and Joe Wenteworth (Joseph Mazzello) are boys who have a reputation for being oddballs. Joe never knew his father, and his mother, Rebecca (Ashley Judd), is keeping her lips sealed, no matter how much he protests. Simon, meanwhile, is an 11-year-old dwarf whose outsize personality belies his small stature. Indeed, he often assails the local reverend (David Strathairn) with thorny theological questions and joins Joe on his quest to find his biological father.

The Good

  • The plot- memoir meets mystery. Has the Stand by Me vibe that was popular in the 90s. Nothing says Sunday afternoon movie more than a 1950’s nostalgic flash back with a calming ‘Wonder Years’ narration.
  • Jim Carey as the older Joe/narrator really works. He has a beautiful voice that really carries the memoir tone. Something that really surprises me seeing as the last thing I saw him in was Earth Girls Are Easy.
  • Oliver Platt is somewhat of an underrated actor in my opinion. This film is a perfect example of what a rich performance he can bring to the table and how he is able to balance humour, charm and charisma. He could not have been in this move enough.
  • Joe Mazzello and Ian Michael Smith Have this amazing chemistry throughout the film that I want so many movies with the two of them. Joe always seems comfortable within the 50s and this film sees him give some of his most powerful scenes I’ve ever had the privilege to see. From standing up to Simon’s excuse for a father to his response to the ‘lefty’ reveal, Mazzello gives emotion by the bucket load. It’s hard not to see the parallels with Three Wishes, but watch them in close succession and you can see how much stronger a person in a similar circumstance can be so different with a true best friend to escape with. Less brat and more of a level head makes Joe of Birch a favourite character of mine.
  • Ian Michael Smith gives the most incredible performance. I hate the response of the adults, including those within the church. He is a beautiful and caring child, despite the discouragement he experiences. There’s a cheeky side to the character that makes this film such a joy to watch despite the bittersweet ending you know is coming.

The Bad

  • I’m sad we lost the relationship between Rebecca and Ben so soon. While it does have an impact on his relationship with Joe, and I love their bond, I’d have loved to have seen them as a family unit a little more.

The Ugly

  • It’s all ‘My Girl’ in places so prepare yourself with a tissue or, you know, a million. Although while My Girl gives you a really amazing happy ride until that blub-fest, this will have your eyes like Niagara Falls from the midway point onwards.


Release date: 4.4.2019

Length: 2 hr 16

About: We all have a superhero inside of us — it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In 14-year-old Billy Batson’s case, all he needs to do is shout out one word to transform into the adult superhero Shazam. Still a kid at heart, Shazam revels in the new version of himself by doing what any other teen would do — have fun while testing out his newfound powers. But he’ll need to master them quickly before the evil Dr. Thaddeus Sivana can get his hands on Shazam’s magical abilities.

The Good

⁃ I really liked that it wasn’t a straight “Big with powers” as I was worried it would be. While I love Zachery Levi and he makes the perfect Shazam, I very quickly realised that Asher Angel was the scene stealer. By having the film alternate between the two actors, it gave a brilliant balance.

⁃ The message of family and finding a home is really quite charming. It felt sincere and it gave the film a realistic uplifting feel.

⁃ There’s some surprising casting that had me gasping in glee. I’m not going to say any more as it’s a little bit of a spoiler for anyone who, like me, hasn’t read the comics. (although, it is SLIGHTLY predictable)

⁃ There’s a beautiful little nod to Big!

⁃ It’s a good ‘origin’ movie with scope for sequels.

The Bad

⁃ Again, totally my bad but I’ve spent months imagining ZL as Shazam… and I didn’t get what I imagined. There’s an ego there that I wasn’t expecting and I didn’t buy that he was playing a suped-up 14 year old. I guess it was so hard to accept the douchbag persona as ZL is such a geektastic sweetheart in reality.

⁃ It felt a little disjointed and I was massively thrown off by the fact that we are presented with the back story of Mark Strong’s Dr Savana first.

⁃ I got the feeling it was trying to be DC’s answer to Deadpool, but it wasn’t given the age rating to allow for that scope so it kind of fell a little flat for me.

⁃ Mark Strong. I love Mark Strong. He seemed to be asleep at the wheel in this. Such a shame, because if he’d brought his A-game, the chemistry between him and Levi would have been electric.

The Ugly

⁃ Don’t worry guys, this is a massive personal problem and I do think it says more about me than the film. I really fell out of love with the film because of the fact that it was set at Christmas. The whole thing; even the prologue. I just felt like it brought me out of the film completely. It’s not a Christmas movie, but it is set at Christmas. So for me, I probably would have enjoyed it more if it had been given a Christmas release.

Overall, it was a flat superhero movie that is samwiched between Marvel’s most anticipated releases.

Have you seen Shazam? Let me know if you agree, disagree with my thoughts in the comments below.

Love Han x

The Indian in the Cupboard (1995)

Length: 1Hr 38

Rating: PG

About: On his birthday, Omri (Hal Scardino) is given several simple gifts, including an old wooden cupboard and a small plastic figurine of a Native American man. When he locks the toy inside the cabinet it magically comes to life as a tiny, cagey warrior named Little Bear (Litefoot). The boy then places other toys in the cupboard and they too come to life, even engaging in entertaining battles. But after Little Bear is wounded, Omri begins to understand that his animate toys are not mere playthings.

First Thoughts

This was my birthday film when I was 10. Upon watching it today, I really do wonder why I chose this to watch. Turns out, I’d had quite a month in the cinema and The Indian in the Cupboard would have been my 6th outing in December. Quite incredible really; I don’t remember seeing quite so many in such a short space of time.

The Good

There’s some deep and meaningful themes within the story that appear to be pulled from the book from which the film is adapted. From exploring responsibility to death and funeral rituals, it’s an easily passive education.

The way in which the film has mastered the perspectives to have the actors as different sizes still stands and I’d say it’s better than films like the Burrowers, which had a larger budget.

It’s quite nice spotting Steve Coogan in a role of humanised toy soldier many years before becoming Octavian in Night at the Museum.

The Bad and the Ugly

Its an odd sort of kid’s film. The plot is rather slow, overly serious and somber for younger viewers, while adults probably would rather check out Mannequin than watch this anxiety riddled kid play with plastic made human.

It’s rather slow in a way that makes it feel overly long. Part of it is to do with the role of Omri; there’s no real development of his character other than him deciding to no longer use the cupboard. I’d have liked to have seen him become a more confident child. By lacking a significant development, it subdues what should be an uplifting ending.

Final Thoughts

It was nice to watch this film again, but I can see why I’ve not rushed to see it again.