The Reel Review

C-

An Indian-American girl shunning her cultural identity in the hopes of fitting in at school must tap into that same heritage when an ancient Hindu demon, a flesh-eating Pishach, latches onto her former best friend and next sets its sights on her. Megan Suri (The MisEducation of Bindu, Missing) stars in this horror/thriller.

The demon in a jar, from It Lives Inside

It Lives Inside is one of those horror movies that you keep hoping will get it right, until it finally becomes apparent that it never will. It’s a shame, because the Hindu origin story is a fresh concept not often explored in mainstream horror. Betty Gabriel (Get Out) and Neeru Bajwa are the strongest performances among the thinly drawn characters, but even they, as Samidha’s concerned teacher and panicked mother, are given very little to work with.

Megan Suri in It Lives Inside

While it’s clear that the film’s demon is a metaphor for depression and alienation, co-writer/director Bishal Dutta, in his feature film debut, never really explores that aspect. He instead falls back to a predictable, tedious, slow crawl of a story with poorly telegraphed jump scares (cue the score!) and bland, PG-13-friendly horror. The mother’s decision to make a home-cooked meal to lure the demon is an unintentional chuckle in a disappointingly unremarkable film.

REEL FACTS

Women celebrating Durga Puja in India in 2022.

• Durga Puja is an annual Hindu festival which celebrates the Hindu goddess Durga’s victory over the shape-shifting demon Mahishasura. The festival, which began in the 1300s, lasts ten days, culminating in the immersion of clay sculptures in a body of water to symbolize Durga’s return to the cosmos.

Megan Suri and Bishal Dutta at a screening of It Lives Inside

It Lives Inside co-writer/director Bishal Dutta says his fascination with film began at the age of three, when his grandfather, who had his Indian village’s only VCR, introduced him to the movie Jaws. Dutta’s film is based on an actual incident that his grandfather said happened to him in India many years ago.

It Lives Inside was filmed in Vancouver, Canada.

 

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