My Best Friend's Exorcism and the Book the Film's Based On – MovieWeb

Prime Video recently adapted Grady Hendrix’s novel My Best Friend’s Exorcism. Here is a bit more about the book that the movie was based on.
Spooky season is officially ending, but that doesn't mean that scary stories should be placed on the back burner awaiting October 2023. Horror has been a part of literature since the beginning, with tales of unspeakable creatures and ghosts being an aspect of most cultures around the world. There are some works that are considered classics, such as Bram Stroker's Dracula and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. They defined not only how books tell horror stories but storytelling as a whole, and that includes movies. Scary stories can affect audiences in many ways, and novels are a great source of material for movies to be based on.
Adapting a book to the movies is something quite hard to do. To be able to translate the intense atmosphere and even monsters to be as effective in front of a camera as in written form is extremely difficult. Stephen King has had some great and some not-so-great adaptations of his stories. There are a lot of other horror writers that have had their works adapted to the screen, and one of them is Grady Hendrix. One of his books, My Best Friend's Exorcism, has been adapted by Amazon Studios and is currently available to watch on Prime Video.
Here's a closer look at the teen horror book, as well as a bit more about the author who created this fun and scary story.
Grady Hendrix is an American horror and comedy author. Hendrix has written a few horror books, his latest being The Final Girl Support Group, which is the story of a small band of women who survived great trauma, just like the final girls in slasher movies. The author is set to release another one next year, How to Sell a Haunted House, which focuses on two siblings that have to sell their haunted house after their parents die in the Covid-19 pandemic. Hendrix is known for mixing comedic and horror elements in his narratives, creating a fun adventure that is also scary.
My Best Friend's Exorcism was one of his first novels. This is an entertaining adventure that has the best elements of cheesier 80s horror combined with classic movies such as The Exorcist. The book tell the story of two young girls who have been best friends since fourth grade, Abigail (Abby) and Gretchen. Then, in one slumber party that goes wrong, the unthinkable happen: after disappearing for an entire night in the woods, Gretchen comes back. But she is not the same. Abby then has to go against everyone and everything to save her friend. In the recent film adaptation, Elsie Fisher plays Abby and Amiah Miller plays Gretchen.
One of the main elements to be carefully constructed in the book is the setting: the eighties. From the front cover to the details given in the story, about movies and music, this story feels like it is not only set in the 80s, but that the decade is such an integral part of the narrative that it feels as if it has come from that period of time (despite being published in 2016 and released as a film in 2022). Something quite interesting that enhances the feeling of the setting is the pictures present in the book. The visual queues add another layer to these characters' worlds, such as teen magazine's tests about the reader and their best friend, bringing a lot of nostalgia to the story.
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Pamphlets are a prime example of some images shown in the book. They have been carefully crafted, and even the font used is reminiscent of the eighties. One that stands out from the others is about Satanic Panic, which directly correlates to what the main character is going through. The author decided to also use these images to create a different type of storytelling. They help the story go forward without losing time describing them. One example is Margaret's eating list: the quantity of the food she is eating quickly turns into basically nothing, which is an important subplot that is directly correlated to Gretchen and the demon.
Yes, this is a horror story where the main character has to save her friend from a demon that is inside of her, and (obviously) no one believes her. However, it is much more a story about friendship and the hardship of adolescence for girls: the pressure to wear makeup, to have a boyfriend, to be accepted, etc.
Most interestingly, the book and film is conscious of social class differences, since Abby is from a lower social class than her best friend, and therefore receives very different treatment from people around them, even to the extent of how possible sexual assault victims are treated and shown in the story. The horror of the demon and the need for an exorcism become the motivator for all these subjects to be put in the front row of the narrative: that is what makes this book stand out.
Which is to say, there are some more scary scenes and plot lines, but they end up dialed down a bit because of the importance given to these other subjects. It is not a flaw of the book (or the film), and it becomes a fun and heartwarming story with horror elements that hardcore fans of the genre and more casual fans can enjoy equally. It may not keep you up at night with any terrifying content, but you will (probably) find yourself reminiscing about high school and the friendships made in that period of time, and how people change when they become older. This is something the book, as well as the film, tenderly captures.
Ana Peres is an aspiring screenwriter living in Brazil. A horror fanatic and compulsive reader on the weekends, Ana loves everything that has to do with storytelling.


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