“It Lives Inside” (2023) confronts the horror of denying one’s cultural identity in order to fit in.
This film follows a high school girl, Samidha (a.k.a Sam), who is struggling to accept her Indian-American culture, while simultaneously going on a journey to save her childhood best friend, Tamira.
While he worked with the producers who made the hit film “Get Out,” Bishal Dutta’s feature debut did not live up to that success. Looking at Rotten Tomatoes, “It Lives Inside” has a 64% tomatometer score with a 50% audience score (as of Sept. 23); on the other hand, “Get Out” scored a 98% tomatometer score with a 86% audience score.
Samidha and Tamira are being tormented by an invisible monster who feeds on insecurity and fear, killing those in its path. While on this rescue mission, Samidha realizes that the only way to save herself and her best friend is through embracing her East Indian culture and beliefs.
As a psychology major, I thought this invisible monster was a good representation of how rejecting your own identity can create lots of turmoil within and outside an individual.
Samidha is played by Megan Suri, who has been seen in Netflix’s popular TV series “Never Have I Ever.” Suri did an excellent job playing the very complex role of Samidha. Tamira is played by Mohana Krishnan, her first major role being in the Nickelodeon TV series “I Am Frankie.” Lastly, Samidha’s mom was played by Neera Bajwa. Bajwa can be seen in several Punjabi and Hindi films, and she played the role of Samidha’s mom extremely well.
Throughout this film, Samidha is experiencing a plethora of emotions. She faces conflict with her mom, experiences loss, has her first kiss, all the while she is being terrorized by Pishach, a monster from Hindu folklore. With these factors in mind, the monster could have been a metaphor for deep-seeded anger, confusion and anxiety – all sorts of bad feelings which can brew within a high school student.
In my opinion, this film was not all that great. The monster was not too scary, and the overall sequence of the film left me unsatisfied. I’d give it two out of five stars. However, I will commemorate this film’s ability to incorporate culture in the story; I enjoyed the film most when there was reference to Samidha’s culture.
Leaving the audience with a cliffhanger, we are left unsure if Samidha truly conquered her innermost monsters. Maybe this will be elaborated on in a sequel? Time will tell.