Yes, Netflix's Brain On Fire Is Based On A True Story

Brain on fire

True stories can often make for the best inspirations for movies. In some cases, it's ridiculous like Tag, but it can also just make the movie all the scarier. We have a case of the latter with Brain on Fire, Netflix's latest release. The movie chronicles a young journalist who begins to suffer from a rare illness that affects the brain, and the long series of doctors who attempted to diagnose it. It's a frightening enough concept for a movie, but it's all based on a true story that happened to a New York Post journalist.

Netflix's Brain on Fire stars Chloë Grace Moretz as Susanna Cahalan, a woman in her early 20s who just started her dream job at the New York Post. Things soon take a turn when Susanna begins to act out of character, crying hysterically one moment and then happily smiling the next. Then came the sense that her body was tingling and feeling numbness in her limbs. Her erratic behavior soon takes a turn for the extreme, and Susanna is checked into a hospital as doctors try and fail to find a diagnosis for why she is behaving this way.

It isn't until an expert in the field of neurology, Dr. Souhel Najjar, discovered what was actually wrong with her. Susanna was suffering because the right side of her brain was inflamed due to an auto-immune disease called anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. Treatment soon began, and Susanna was eventually back on her feet and reported again after several months.

All in all the whole event lasted one month, but Susanna barely remembers any of it. She only learned about the things that happened to her and her actions from a diary her father kept while we would watch over her in the hospital. Susanna cataloged the experience in a 2009 New York Post article and then wrote a book called Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness. The film rights for the book were eventually purchased and a movie was filmed with director Gerard Barrett. The movie screened at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2016, and Netflix purchased the distribution rights.

It's an amazing story and one that adds an extra level on context to Brain on Fire. The movie has received mostly negative reviews, but that doesn't make the real Susanna's story any less effective.

A lot of Netflix releases can tend to fly under the radar because the streaming giant releases so many nowadays, but if this true story has made you curious then you can watch Brain on Fire on Netflix right now. For more movie releases on the streaming service, here is everything that's arriving in July -- there are some good ones in there!

Matt Wood

Matt has lived in New Jersey his entire life, but commutes every day to New York City. He graduated from Rowan University and loves Marvel, Nintendo, and going on long hikes and then greatly wishing he was back indoors. Matt has been covering the entertainment industry for over two years and will fight to his dying breath that Hulk and Black Widow make a good couple.