In “It Lives Inside,” a hanging Indian American teenager named Samidha, portrayed by Megan Suri, strives to mix in along with her suburban friends. Nevertheless, lurking inside their group is a malevolent entity, much more sinister than the challenges of adolescence or hormonal modifications.
It’s the characteristic debut of Bishal Duttal, who co-wrote the movie with Ashish Mehta and crafts an successfully menacing PG-13-rated nail-biter centered on the fascinating and conflicting dynamics of an Indian American household. The mother, Poorna (Neeru Bajwa) is set to maintain up with the traditions of the nation they left behind. Samidha – sorry, Sam – would quite not, which her dad helps, in concept.
She shaves her arms within the morning and posts a Kardashian-level selfie with a rigorously chosen filter. She “forgets” the lunch her mom has packed her. She resents the Indian customs and holidays that forestall her from hanging out with the lovable man in her class. And she or he’s forged apart her previous finest buddy, a fellow Indian American named Tamira (Mohana Krishnan), hoping that perhaps she will be able to simply mix in and never be the “Indian lady” anymore. Basically, she’s a traditional teen, by means of and thru.
Sadly for Sam, Tamira has gotten fairly bizarre. Her childhood buddy skulks round college like a ghost, hidden behind a curtain of unbrushed hair and cradling a cloudy Mason jar like her life trusted it – not precisely the form of individual whom an aspiring widespread lady desires on her resume. And it simply will get worse as a result of, naturally, IT does stay inside that Mason jar and that Mason jar is unable to resist a fall to the ground. Oops.
Duttal will get your coronary heart charge going off the bat, with a creepy prologue as screams flood out of a traditional suburban home, however Sam’s descent into one of many haunted by no means fairly finds an appropriate or constant tone. It’s all moody, wide-eyed paranoia with “Stranger Issues” vibes that’s sometimes interrupted by run-of-the-mill jump-scares and demonic nightmare visions. It’ll startle and spook, however it additionally doesn’t really feel extremely authentic, which is an odd failure for a narrative that has chosen to give attention to a really authentic menace.
Her mother and father are a bit confounding and irritating too – as she turns into more and more paranoid and scared (which appears affordable after she witnesses the surprising loss of life of a classmate, no matter whether or not it was an invisible demon or a rabid wild animal) they reply like she’s only a delinquent who has damaged curfew or been caught skipping college. The one one who appears to care and pay attention is her trainer (“Get Out’s” Betty Gabriel), which doesn’t put her within the good graces of the vindictive, flesh-eating Pishacha.
The story additionally doesn’t actually grapple sufficient with the intriguing themes of assimilation, alienation and id as soon as the monster is at massive – maybe it’s as a result of we’re merely plopped in the course of a thriller that doesn’t give us sufficient to actually care about anybody concerned. One child’s already useless. Tamira is already bizarre. Sam is already cool.
“It Lives Inside” remains to be a welcome respite from the opposite long-in-the-tooth horror franchises populating theaters this time of 12 months in that it’s simply one thing new – new faces, new themes, a promising filmmaker to observe – however I want it will have embraced extra of the issues that make it distinctive versus making an attempt to slot in with its style brethren. Form of like Sam. I imply, Samidha.