Some Hindu demons are just assholes. Take the Pishach, the occasionally invisible creature at the center of It Lives Inside, who likes to torment its victims before ultimately feasting on their souls. Dick move if you ask me. Dick move to not make a better movie, too.
It Lives Inside is an almost-really-good horror thriller that unfortunately is simply mediocre, despite a strong cast, a compelling premise, and focus on an Indian-American protagonist for a change.
Megan Suri stars as Samidha, who really wants to fit in with all the white kids but can’t quite shake her cultural roots, in large part due to the constant nagging by her mother (Neeru Bajwa), who I’ll admit made me feel old only because it’s one of the first horror movies where I realized I am now officially more attracted to the mom than the 24-year-old lead. Both are gorgeous, but more importantly both do a stellar job.
Technically, It Lives Inside is a step above your generic horror movie. Director Bishal Dutta, in his feature-length debut, delivers some scary moments, though overall I wouldn’t describe the movie as scary as it was likely intended to be. But it’s well put together, atmospheric, and demonstrates potential for the emerging filmmaker.
Having an Indian family and Hindu monster at the center of the story—while set in the U.S.—hinted at something more resonant and unique. But the biggest bummer about It Lives Inside, co-written by Dutta and Ashish Mehta, is if you strip away some of the window dressing, it’s a pretty generic horror flick that is a lot dumber than the filmmakers probably think it is. It’s got all of the cliches—a teenager who opts not to tell her parents or the police what’s going on, decisions to go into a deserted house at night, constant refusal to think of a plan that is obvious to the audience (bring a fucking jar with you!), and other stupid stuff. In fact, the main character is frustrating as hell throughout, and just when you think she’s finally overcome her own stupidity, she makes more idiot decisions in the final showdown.
Dutta also relies heavily on dream sequences. My general belief is that dream sequences are cheats (unless you’re dealing with Freddy Kreuger), but regardless after the first go-around the sequences become not only predictable but also completely un-scary because you know nothing is really at stake.
It all adds up to a surprisingly dull affair, which is a real shame because you can see how damn close this movie is from being something much better. It Lives Inside simply doesn’t bring it home, in large part due to its surprising unoriginality.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.