IT LIVES INSIDE is a new horror movie with Indian-American main characters and a plot set in Indian folklore. The story has both jump scares and a deeply emotional element. Screening at Fantasia 2023. Read our full It Lives Inside movie review here!
IT LIVES INSIDE is a new horror movie with a classic horror story and yet a few twists. Firstly, the “twist” of having an Indian-American main cast is simply wonderful. I love it when it isn’t just the same thing over and over again, and there is so much folklore and so many urban legends and myths we have yet to explore.
MORE FOLKLORE-BASED HORROR
If you prefer your horror movie to have lots of jump scares, then this movie does deliver on that. Okay, maybe not “lots” but there are quite a few well-timed frights. For me, though, it’s the deep emotional horror of being alone against a sinister entity that hits harder.
Continue reading our It Lives Inside movie review below. Screening at Fantasia 2023 and in US theaters from September 22, 2023.
A foot in two worlds
After a powerful opening scene that makes it very clear we’re watching a horror movie, we meet the Indian-American teenager Samidha (Megan Suri). She is clearly feeling torn between two environments and wants desperately to be a “normal” high school student.
At home, she’s pressured by her traditionalist mother Poorna (Neeru Bajwa), while she doesn’t quite fit in at school. Anyone who isn’t just a “normal” white, Christian, straight, cis-gender person will undoubtedly notice the microaggressions. Even from her friends, who mean no harm but also look ignorant to us watching from the outside.
Her heritage and her present collide when her childhood best friend Tamira (Mohana Krishnan) gets into trouble. Tamira has been acting strange and distant lately, and Samidha (who goes by the more “normal” Sam) is trying to avoid getting associated with her.
This ends when Tamira confronts her while carrying around a mason jar. Something lives inside that jar and it’s hungry and needy and has Tamira feeling visibly terrified.
When horror stories are true
Tamira shocks Sam when she tells her that the stories of demons, they were told as kids, are very much true. It doesn’t take long before Sam discovers just how true those words are. The thing escapes its glass captivity and immediately invades Sam’s life. Threatening everyone she trusts and loves.
As the dark side of the folklore Sam was raised with creeps into her life, she is forced to dive into the culture she’s been desperate to escape.
The horror includes everything from the eerie suggestions (one such thing is a literally hair-raising early moment) to the very explicit demonic terror. The kind that draws blood and even results in death.
One person always on Sam’s side is her teacher, Joyce, who knows what it’s like to be different. The school is overwhelmingly white, and as a black teacher, she keeps her eye out for anyone and everyone who looks to be struggling. For whatever reason. Joyce is portrayed by the always wonderful Betty Gabriel from movies such as Get Out and The Purge: Election Year.
Watch It Lives Inside in US theaters from September
It Lives Inside is a debut feature film from director and co-writer Bishal Dutta. He wrote this screenplay based on a story he wrote with Ashish Mehta. From start to finish, the story beautifully blends the tension of the immigrant experience with supernatural horror.
However, it’s important to note that while this is culturally specific, it’s also a very universal story that is entirely accessible to all viewers. The movie won SXSW’s Midnighter Audience Award and it’s easy to see why.
Currently, the movie is screening at Fantasia 2023 which is how we’ve been able to watch it, but it will be out in US theaters from late September.
It Lives Inside screened at Fantasia 2023, but it will also be out in theaters from September 22, 2023.
In Theaters: September 22, 2023
Director: Bishal Dutta
Writers: Bishal Dutta, Ashish Mehta
Cast: Megan Suri, Neeru Bajwa, Mohana Krishnan
Sam is desperate to fit in at school, rejecting her Indian culture and family to be like everyone else. When a mythological demonic spirit latches onto her former best friend, she must come to terms with her heritage in order to defeat it.