The Devil Orders Hawaiian Pizza


Courtney Gets Possessed is a pleasant enough movie about receiving the devil. While it's clever, it's timid. The writing is sharp, and the acting as sharp. It's not fair to critique what a movie isn't over what it is, but it’s hard to help doing it with a premise like this.

Courtney is a sweet, jilted woman who meets a guy named Dave at the wedding of her ex. She's depressed, he flirts with her, and between title cards they take up a five-year affair, which presumably will end with her marriage to a guy named Glenn. But Courtney's acerbic, green-eyed sister Caitlyn inadvertently grants the devil, Dave, admission to their house during Court's bachelorette party, and from there things get wacky. Dave's chosen Courtney's soul because she's "hot. Innocent. Exquisitely broken." He entraps the wedding party and zips from body to body in his quest to own souls.  It's up to them to foil him ("Bridesmaids assemble!"), particularly envious Caitlyn, who's the most in need of social salvation.

Courtney's setup makes us expect an extended Saturday Night Live-style skit; you may remember what those folks did with it, with Lorraine Newman as the girl and Richard Pryor as the priest. Courtney either pulls back or never intended to go there. Yes, they tell us Courtney is possessed, and yes, sometimes she speaks in a creepy voice, but does she levitate? No. Does her head swivel 180 degrees? No. Does she speak in tongues? No. Does she spew pea-soup vomit? Also no. The elements that made The Exorcist lurid fun go unaddressed. And the release of Courtney is timed to coincide with the Exorcist reboot.

Okay. The comedy that Courtney is quick, smart, and of the moment (i.e., Lisa the wedding planner discloses, in a case of internet-speak, that she's late because there was "a little hiccup with the ice sculpture that required a conversation.") But it also suffers from missed opportunities.

Courtney Gets Possessed is the work of a comic duo who goes by Mitchell + Hatfield, made up respectively of Jonno Mitchell and Madison Hatfield (who also plays the spiteful Caitlyn). They are part of the Atlanta alt-Hollywood scene, and you'll recognize the cast members from other TV shows and films that come out of those studios.

Lauren Buglioi (seen in Pet Semetary: Bloodlines and Florida Man) as Courtney gets to try on different personas; Jonathon Palowski (from The Valet and Miles from Nowhere) is appropriately smarmy as Dave the Devil; Najah Bradley, she of the atomic test hair, plays Jasmine; she was memorable in the AMC series Interview with the Vampire. Zae Jordon (Glenn), Aditi George (Lexi), and Steven Reddington (Chuck) confidently add to the mayhem.

Mitchell + Hatfield, who are previously known for shorts like Jenna Gets an Abortion and the feature Pageant Material, bill themselves collectively as "the John Hughes of Feminism and Gay Stuff." Yet little in the film suggest a social agenda. Or maybe I'm missing the point. Maybe if I put expectations aside, I'll see some sort of codes preaching to the choir. If so, Courtney Gets Possessed is a tad too subtle, and doesn't quite deliver the other goods. Yes, I enjoyed it. Maybe I shouldn't have thought about it after.


Courtney Gets Possessed. Directed by Jonno Mitchell and Madison Hatfield. 2023. Produced by Peach Jam Pictures. Released by Tricoast Worldwide. 86 minutes. Available on VOD.

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