Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans



Directed by Bishal Dutta.
Starring Megan Suri, Mohana Krishnan, Betty Gabriel.
Horror, US, 99 minutes, certificate 15.


Released in cinemas in the UK 22nd September by Vertigo Releasing.


After making a number of short films Bishal Dutta makes his feature length debut with IT LIVES INSIDE, an always interesting, entertaining and elevated take on teenagers dealing with a supernatural menace. The film foregrounds the Indian American culture of its heroine alongside its fantastical horror elements, making for an engrossing film standing out from the pack of other recent mainstream horror films treading similar ground to much less memorable results.


Teenager Samidha seems all too keen to leave behind her Indian heritage in favour of fitting in with her peer group at her high school, feeling embarrassed of her mother’s insistence on staying true to her cultural roots. She is also distancing herself from her childhood friend Tamira, who seems to be embracing her roots in an entirely different direction, insisting on carrying a glass jar, which she claims imprisons an ancient demon. Tamira, now a social pariah, pleads with Samidha for help with the jar but gets the opposite when Samidha accidentally breaks it. Cynicism soon gives way to terror as Tamira vanishes, and Samidha and those close to her find their lives severely endangered by a pitiless demonic force.


Dutta effortlessly combines the genre elements with the less than familiar, to Western audiences anyway, cultural elements to create an effective supernatural flick. The thread of cultural identity and tradition carries an edge of fear of being ignored or even wiped out by a more dominant cultural force. Placing this alongside the more immediate threat of a bloodthirsty monster that wants to wipe Samidha and friends and family out in a far more literal fashion and making it work as well as it does is a testament to Dutta, and co-screenwriter Ashish Mehta’s skills in crafting this refreshing take on a demonic entity.


The film’s unique cultural perspective is not all that the film has going for it. Dutta provides just as much space for a number of well-executed scares that leave the viewer on tenterhooks as to how and where the spectral menace will strike next. One particular scene may have the more impressionable among you avoiding swing sets after one particularly vicious set piece here, as well as utilising a starkly lit high school corridor to just as impressive an effect.


Despite its cultural viewpoint, however, more than a sense of the familiar at play halts the film from tipping into appointment viewing. Nevertheless, this is still impressive and signals an interesting career ahead for its debut director.


Iain MacLeod.


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Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans