Another horror film you can worship.
I like to compare “It Lives Inside” to “Smile.” That movie was about a young woman who has to not sleep, because she gets haunted by a sinister smile, which would eventually kill her. It was scary, but in my opinion, it had to succumb to the cliches that people have to think she’s crazy. I acknowledge that the reason why is because everyone else lives in reality, and that is supposed to be a fantasy.
I long for the day when someone finally figures out how to deal with their unusual situations without looking or acting crazy. But for now, I must share with you my opinion of “It Lives Inside.” It combines Indian themes with supernatural evils, while having a young heroine who struggles with her cultural identity. That girl happens to be Samidha (Megan Suri from “Missing”), or Sam as she prefers, who adapts better to her American life than her mother Poorna (Nehru Bajwa). She questions why her daughter speaks English, and expects her to worship Puja with her family.
Her former best friend Tamira (Mohana Krishnan) has been having problems lately, much to the concerns of their teacher Joyce (Betty Gabriel). Not the kind regarding drugs or alcohol. The kind in which she looks like she hasn’t slept in days. And the kind in which she has a jar with some kind of demonic entity inside. She tries to tell Sam, but of course she docent believe her. However…..when she breaks the jar, Tamira gets taken away by whatever that thing is, and Sam gets haunted by it.
She tries to investigate the nightmare through paintings, old houses, and even her past. It all becomes connected to the Pishach, a Hindu devourer of souls. This is when the girl must get with her roots in order to defeat it.
Another supernatural independent horror film I like to compare this movie to is “Talk to Me,” an Australian import about a girl who finds herself in dark territory after shaking an embalmed hand. It found a smart horror audience this summer, according to the box office numbers and its green-lit sequel, and actually tested our senses. “It Lives Inside” doesn’t take those kind of risks in terms of its story, but it doesn’t want to succumb to the most typical horror movie clichés. It wants to combine the themes I have mentioned above, and has some excellent performances from Suri, Bajwa, and Gabriel.
Co-writer/director Bishal Dutta (whose short film credits include “Millennia Man” and “City Lights”) and co-writer Ashish Mehta both make their feature debut with good-hearted intentions and wise magnetism. And they’re more interested in the young heroine than the actual demon, who mostly appears invisible or in shadow, until the end. They’re more interested in her directions in life, and maybe this supernatural horror can give her a boost. I’m not saying this out of context. I’m saying this with a certain aspect. One that I see every now and then in horror movies, when they don’t want to rely on the jump scare twist in the end.
“It Lives Inside” has its demons (pun intended), but it also keeps you watching and pondering on why these fantasies are unfortunately happening. NEON has the good mind to let this movie see the light of day.
This article was written by me with full support of the SAG-AFTRA and Writers Guild of America strikes.