It Lives Inside - FrightFest European Premiere
Director: Bishal Dutta
Starring: Megan Suri, Neeru Bajwa, Mohana Krishnan, Betty Gabriel
Written by: Bishal Dutta
Produced by: Raymond Mansfield, Sean McKittrick
Cinematography by: Matthew Lynn
Original Score by: Wesley Hughes
An Indian-American teenager struggling with her cultural identity has a falling out with her former best friend and, in the process, unwittingly releases a demonic entity that grows stronger by feeding on her loneliness.
Possession based horror films come out a couple of times every year, and more often than not, most of them are just cheap knockoffs of 'The Exorcist'. Young girl gets possessed, family seek out religious expert, then we get a flashy light exorcism to wrap things up. Some are better than others, obviously, but it’s always nice when one comes along and breaks out of that mold. Luckily 'It Lives Inside' steps away from the norm and gives us a tale based in Indian folklore. It’s refreshing and the writer/director Bishal Dutta doesn’t waste our time by giving us a bog-standard horror film.
In 'It Lives Inside', Sam (Megan Suri) struggles daily with her cultural identity, but things become worse when her former best friend Tamira (Mohana Kristnan) gets kidnapped by an evil spirit and Sam must find her before it’s too late. One of the most appealing aspects of the film is its focus on its Indian characters and their heritage. It’s interesting to see a different culture represented on screen, through the prism of a horror film.
The mother/daughter drama is genuinely well done and adds to the stakes of the characters' lives when they’re put in danger near the end of the film. Megan Suri does a fantastic job as Sam, giving the character some real heart and emotion. For a newcomer, Suri really carries the film well and I'm looking forward to seeing more from this young actress.
The horror aspect of the film reminded me a lot of 'The Vigil (2022)'. At times, it’s creepy and slow paced, really trying it’s best to get under your skin; But the film also likes to show the gruesomeness of the creature. The way the creature attacks people is often brutal and hard to watch, and I was actually surprised how cruel the film maker was treating the characters at times. Not in a bad way of course, it gave me the same feeling I get watching Freddy Krueger and seeing what he’s going to do to his next victims. The monster itself in this film has a pretty cool design. I was expecting it to be fully CGI but to my surprise a full puppet version is on display in the finale and it rocks. Some people might find the monster silly but having it clearly in the room with the actors really adds to the film.
'It Lives Inside' was definitely a surprise for me. Great acting, well directed and some decent scares. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea; I can understand if some people find it a bit by the numbers but the cultural aspects of the story and the practical effects elevate what would be a substandard possession story to a pretty great horror flick. If you’re looking for a pretty fun, scary film with real bite, 'It Lives Inside' might be for you.
- Adam Neeson
'It Lives Inside' received it's European Premiere at FrightFest '23 on August 25th and will hit UK Cinemas on September 22nd