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|Screenplay By||Bishal Dutta, Ashish Mehta|
|Date Released (In Theaters)||September 21, 2023|
|Genre(s)||Drama, Fantasy, Horror|
|Film Length||1 Hour 39 Minutes|
|Content Rating||Rated PG-13|
|Noted Characters and Cast|
Content Rating Explanation
“It Lives Inside” contains:
- Dialog: occasional curse word
- Violence: mutilated bodies, blood, and light gore
- Sexual Content: none
- Miscellaneous: demonic imagery
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Samidha, who commonly goes by Sam, is in an odd place in her teens. She seems to want to assimilate and not be othered for being Indian. Yet, in the pursuit of being like everyone else, she is pushed by her friends and even her crush, Russ, to either embrace who she is or be the Indian girl.
It’s an uncomfortable position made worse by her childhood best friend Tamira acting strange and holding a jar. Some are asking if it is a cultural thing, which upsets Sam to the point of being mean to her former friend. However, Sam isn’t just mean to her but also to her mother, Poorna, since she sees her mom as a stereotype.
But, as a pishacha begins to haunt, hurt, and sometimes kill those in Sam’s life, she is forced to embrace her faith and culture if she wants to save her loved ones and herself.
Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.
It seems safe to assume Sam is a first-generation Indian girl in what appears to be a North American country (either Canada or the United States). Because of this, she is torn between the culture her mother Poorna loves and tries to instill in her, from cooking to speaking Hindi, and her surroundings where her physically looking other is bad enough, but to then bring in all her mother wants her to be would be too much, especially for someone trying to assimilate and fit in.
- The actor is also known for their role in “Missing.”
Before high school, Tamira was Sam’s best friend. However, with her not down to mask her otherness, Sam left her behind and wrote off her unwillingness to change as immaturity.
Poorna is Sam’s mother, who increasingly questions how good of an idea was it to move from India? She sees how her daughter is changing, how their relationship isn’t what she grew up with, and while she and her husband are on good terms, him usually taking their daughter’s side only adds to her frustrations.
Joyce is Tamira and Sam’s English teacher who, with them being women of color like her, she tries to look out for.
- The actor is also known for their role in “Get Out.”
Russ is Sam’s crush.
Notable Performances or Moments
Quality Story & Characters
In some ways, you can see “It Lives Inside” isn’t just a horror movie but a drama. Yes, the fight to contain a pishachas is the hook, but the story beyond that will truly get you invested. Truly, Sam trying to navigate being a first-generation Indian girl in a seemingly predominately White town is interesting. Especially as you see common microaggressions or incidents, like having someone mix up Hindu versus speaking Hindi and wanting to record you speaking a foreign language.
Never mind, in the case of Ms. Joyce, showing that, even when you have the best intentions, you can say something offensive, like assuming just because two people share a culture, they are close or know each other well. All while presenting the idea you are trying to form some sort of solidarity, as you are part of the handful of women of color in an area.
To me, there are such wonderful complexities, and when you throw Poorna into the mix? Oh, the things that could have been done, like in “India Sweets and Spices,” where Sam’s opinion could have evolved about Poorna? There is certainly a missed opportunity, but you do get a taste of Sam being ungrateful and ignorant to what her mother has been through, paired with Poorna having guilt about leaving her family behind, if not doing enough for them.
It all pushes the idea that the deeper story is perhaps the one that there was a desire to be told, and the horror element is just there because it is hard to get funding for the story at the heart of “It Lives Inside.”
On The Fence
The Build-Up To It Getting Scary
As a horror movie, “It Lives Inside” may disappoint for most of the movie. It keeps its villainous monster hidden throughout most of the film, making the build to the reveal worth it. However, it lacks consistent quality jump scares, and honestly, the film’s tone often doesn’t feel like a horror. Yes, things get quiet, the monster pops up, and people get attacked, sometimes even killed. But it often feels like the horror element is a necessary evil, like an action movie that knows it needs a story to justify fight and chase scenes. “It Lives Inside” has horror elements just because it has to, not because it seems to want to.
Who Is This For?
Those who love horror films that aren’t focused on some Catholic or Christian entity, but rather from a different faith/culture and, in terms of its leads character, not making their blank slates anyone could play, but specific enough where viewers may want to follow up on things said because what is talked about hasn’t been rehashed to the point of being generic.
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It Lives Inside (2023) – Overview
While I am not aware of the thoughts behind “It Lives Inside,” it does seem, like a handful of movies in the horror genre, there was a better story than what was shackled due to the horror movie elements.
Quality Story & Characters - 87%
The Build-Up To It Getting Scary - 77%
- Quality Story & Characters
- The Build-Up To It Getting Scary