It’s such a good feeling to know that high school is a place where one can be themselves without discrimination or ridicule. Sike! For Samidha (Never Have I Ever’s Megan Suri) in It Lives Inside, she finds herself finally fitting in with the cool kids. All she had to do was totally deny her Indian heritage. Fair trade, right? As a result, her home life, especially her relationship with her mother (Neeru Bajwa), has been testy and she’s all but abandoned her childhood best friend, Tamira (Mohana Krishnan).
Tamira isn’t very popular and the fact she’s carrying around a jar that she says has something in it that’s always hungry only makes her weirder. She turns to Sam for help, but Sam doesn’t want to hear it, shattering the jar and unleashing a pishacha – an ancient demon from Hindu folklore that often times can’t be seen but is frightfully felt every time. As soon as the beast is free, Tamira is kidnapped and Sam is next on the chopping block. If they want to trap this thing once and for all, Sam will have to embrace what she’s been trying so hard to erase.
A pishacha has the need to feed on people’s anxieties and fears, which is something writer/director Bishal Dutta unfortunately can’t do with It Lives Inside. Representation is terrific to see, though this teen horror flick is incredibly imitative in everything else. Performances are unavailing and scares are scarce because Dutta and co-writer Ashish Mehta choose to take the easy way out. By hardly offering up anything fresh, they got a dull demon on their hands.
Furthermore, it’s quite disheartening to watch the alienation and misery that lives inside such a cultural divide be accentuated without ever being genuinely explored. Throw in a concerned teacher, a new boyfriend, and an old book filled with clues and you are in for a trite time at the movies. Fans of this sub-genre will get nothing new out of It Lives Inside.
Brandon Vick is a member of The Music City Film Critics’ Association and the Southeastern Film Critics Association, the resident film critic of the SoBros Network, and the star of The Vick’s Flicks Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @SirBrandonV and be sure to search #VicksFlicks for all of his latest movie reviews.
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