Spooky season is officially ending, but that doesn’t mean scary stories should be put on the back burner until October 2023. Horror has been a part of literature since the beginning, with stories of untold creatures and ghosts being an most cultures. around the world. Some works are considered classics, such as that of Bram Stroker Dracula and Mary Shelley Frankenstein. They defined not just 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 to base movies on.
Adapting a book to film is something quite difficult to do. Being able to translate the intense atmosphere and even the monsters to be as effective on camera as it is in writing is extremely difficult. Stephen King has had some great and not-so-great adaptations of his stories. There are plenty of other horror writers who have had their works adapted for the screen, and one of them is Grady Hendrix. One of his books, My Best Friend’s Exorcismwas adapted by Amazon Studios and is currently available on Prime Video.
Here’s a look at the teen horror book, plus a bit more about the author who created this fun and scary story.
Who is Grady Hendrix?
Grady Hendrix is an American horror and comedy author. Hendrix has written a few horror books, his latest being The Last Girls Support Group, which is the story of a small group of women who survived great trauma, just like the last girls in slasher movies. The author should release another one next year, How to sell a haunted house, which centers on two siblings who must sell their haunted house after their parents die in the Covid-19 pandemic. Hendrix is known for mixing comedy and horror elements into his stories, creating a fun adventure that’s also chilling.
My Best Friend’s Exorcism is one of his first novels. It’s an entertaining adventure that combines the best elements of 80s horror with classic films such as The Exorcist. The book tells the story of two young girls who have been best friends since fourth grade, Abigail (Abby) and Gretchen. Then, during a slumber party that goes wrong, the unthinkable happens: after disappearing all night in the woods, Gretchen returns. But she is no longer the same. Abby must then go against everyone and everything to save her friend. In the recent film adaptation, Elsie Fisher plays Abby and Amiah Miller plays Gretchen.
The aesthetics of the 80s in Hendrix’s book
One of the main elements to be carefully constructed in the book is the setting: the eighties. From the cover to the details given in the story, on the movies and the music, this story gives the impression that it is not only set in the 80s, but that the decade is such an integral part of the narrative that one feels like it came from this period (although it was released in 2016 and released as a movie in 2022). Something quite interesting that enhances the feeling of the setting are the images present in the book. The visual lineups add another layer to these characters’ worlds, like the teen magazine’s tests of the reader and their best friend, bringing a lot of nostalgia to the story.
The brochures are a great example of some of the images featured in the book. They have been carefully designed and even the font used is reminiscent of the eighties. The one who stands out from the others is on satanic panic, which is directly related to what the main character is going through. The author decided to also use these images to create another type of narration. They move the story forward without wasting time describing them. One example is Margaret’s meal list: the amount of food she eats quickly turns into virtually nothing, which is an important subplot that directly correlates to Gretchen and the demon.
This exorcism is about friendship and social class
Yes, it’s a horror story where the main character has to save her friend from a demon inside her, and (obviously) no one believes her. However, it’s much more about friendship and the struggles of adolescence for girls: the pressure to wear makeup, to have a boyfriend, to be accepted, etc.
More interestingly, the book and the film are aware of social class differences, as Abby is of a lower social class than her best friend and therefore receives very different treatment from those around them, even to the extent that possible victims of sexual assault are treated and presented in the film. ‘story. The horror of the demon and the need for an exorcism become the motivation for all these subjects to be put at the forefront of the story: this is what sets this book apart.
That is to say, there are scarier scenes and storylines, but they end up being scaled back a bit due to the emphasis on these other topics. It’s not a flaw of the book (or movie), and it becomes a fun, heartwarming story with horror elements that hardcore fans of the genre and more casual fans alike can enjoy. It might not keep you up at night with terrifying content, but you’ll (probably) remember high school and the friendships made during that time, and how people change as they get older. It’s something the book, as well as the film, captures with tenderness.