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My Best Friend’s Exorcism Explained- Tapeworm Diets, Owls, And The Demon Andras

My Best Friend's Exorcism

Amazon’s latest commitment to spooky season programming My Best Friend’s Exorcism, based on the novel by Grady Hendrix, is better than you expect it to be. The unabashedly cheesy, occasionally funny, lightly scary horror comedy is a joy. Sprinkled between the Jim Henson-esque demon, Culture Club posters, and lip gloss, a few nuggets pique interest as more than the usual horror nonsense. The film, which reads like a mashup of many of our late 80s, and early 90’s classics, pokes fun at itself and all the urban legends from back in the day. Here’s what you need to know about the owls, the worms, and the demon Andras.

The references to the 80s come hard and fast. There is a lot to keep up with between the legwarmers, side ponies, and Trapper Keepers. It’s another Gen X nostalgia grab, and I’m not mad about it. Satanic Panic and the war on drugs kept us all paranoid because dollars to donuts if it wasn’t drugs, it was demon possession. If I’m lying, I’m dying.

Glorious Grape was real; however, Purple Passion was more my speed. The LSD tab scare was propagated by the Just Say No hysteria of the era. Although everyone heard the stories and saw the after-school special starring Helen Hunt, I’m not entirely sure how many people went clubbing and ingested these tabs accidentally or on purpose. Just like in My Best Friend’s Exorcism, the tabs given out either as Trick or Treat gifts or at parties were by and large harmless. Similar to the razor blade scare, this is an urban legend.

Margaret’s Worms

In the film, the demon living in Gretchen tricks Margaret into consuming a diet shake full of worm eggs. The demon knows to prey on her insecurity about her weight. Margaret does not know the drink contained parasites, but she probably would have drank it anyway. The grotesque worm that comes from Margaret’s body is massive and disgusting but not a tapeworm. Tapeworms are much thinner and not spiky like the one in My Best Friend’s Exorcism. Tapeworms cause both diarrhea and vomiting, though, and the worms could be expelled through the mouth or the intestines, so that part was accurate. They also can grow to be as long as 82 feet.

My Best Friend's Exorcism Explained
Courtesy of Amazon Prime

The worm diet is disgustingly true. Dieters would ingest pills containing tapeworm larvae and wait for the parasites to hatch. The worms would cause intestinal problems and eat portions of whatever the host ate. Both of these things caused the person to lose weight. Once they had achieved their goal weight, they would take an anti-parasitic and expel the worms. This is an actual thing that was advertised in the early 1900s and is rumored to have continued off and on over the last 200 years. Evidence of this practice is largely anecdotal, though, and considered a myth. Nevertheless, this repulsive idea refuses to die. Scads of tapeworm clinics can be found online even now. They are most assuredly scams, although the alternative is no better.

Owls and demons

As a result of owls’ nocturnal habits and ability to rotate their heads unnaturally, owls were often considered symbols of demons and the Devil. Early Christianity and the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch, whose unique brand of horror inspired the infamous and largely unseen gory murder orgy in Event Horizon, prominently feature owl symbolism. Both used the bird as a stand-in for evil. Now the large eyed birds are thought of as symbols of wisdom, cleverness, and intuition. Curiously they are also tied to transformation, which could mean both a shift to a more enlightened version of yourself or the possession of a demon.

In My Best Friend’s Exorcism, owls are always around when the girls are in the woods. Considering their locale, it is not unusual for them to be present; however, the number of them is what Christian Lemon says is odd. When they follow someone in numbers or hang out near a dwelling, it could mean they are drawn to the evil in the person or place. They follow the girls home from the cabin, and one flies away at the end of the film as Abby drives away from Gretchen. The light and airy horror film is not particularly deep, so it is unlikely that the owl’s presence means anyone is still possessed or the demon is watching them. Instead, it has the same sensibility as the Goosebumps books, and an owl flying away is a good way to bookend the movie.

My Best Friend's Exorcism

The demon Andras in My Best Friend’s Exorcism

Gretchen and Abby go into the scary house in the woods and enter a portal to Hell. The cabin looks smaller on the outside because it is supernaturally large. Unfortunately, it also seems to have all the hallmarks of someplace you should never go. An inky blackness seeps into Gretchen from a darkened room, a shrine to something terrible sports a blinking eye, and the word Andras is scrawled on the walls. These things should have been red flags to both girls, but they heed the warning too late. As Abby runs out of the house, thinking Gretchen was right behind her, Gretchen gets pulled back into the room, and the demon attaches itself to her.

The demon’s name is Andras, and the cabin and the room are his home and his shrine. He is the 63rd of the 72 Spirits of Solomon prominently displayed in the sigil map in Paramount +’s Evil. He is frequently depicted as riding a black wolf and having the body of a human but the head of an owl or a raven. This is yet another tie to owls. They are his familiars. The powerful demon commands 30 legions of lesser demons and loves to create rifts in family and friends. His modus operandi is to sow discord and pick people off one at a time, just like he tries to do in the film.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism is the perfect way to start the Halloween season and an excellent double feature with Disney +’s Hocus Pocus 2 streaming today. For fans of not-too-scary horror comedies and children of the 80s, it’s a good time.