Directed by Bishal Dutta, ‘It Lives Inside’ is a supernatural horror of 2023 featuring Mohana Krishnan, Megan Suri, Neeru Bajwa, Gage Marsh, Betty Gabriel, Vik Sahay, and more. The movie puts the audience in the shoes of an Indian American Teenager, Samidha Aka Sam, who one day unintentionally releases an evil entity trapped inside a mason Jar. After its release, the evil entity immediately kidnaps Samidha’s ex-best friend, Tamira, leaving her with only a few days to save her life before the evil kills Tamira and consumes her spirit.
In addition to being a horror movie, ‘It Lives Inside’ deals with issues that teens face, including making new friends in a foreign country. Samidha’s character is engaging and relatable since she goes through a similar process of self-discovery and struggles to conform to cultural norms that the audience can relate to. Given the film’s exploration of teenage struggles, one might wonder if ‘It Lives Inside’ is based on real events. Here are the facts.
Is It Lives Inside a True Story?
No, the movie is not based on real events. It is a fictional movie hailing from the creative mind of writer-director Bishal Dutta, who has already garnered critical acclaim for his portfolio of short films that have been celebrated at multiple film festivals. Even though the film is entirely fictitious, it draws inspiration from Hindu mythology and also some personal stories Bishal’s grandfather used to tell him when he was a kid.
When asked about the same in an interview, Bishal stated- “After I moved to North America from India at the age of four, a lot of my social education came from watching American horror films. I always wondered, what were families like mine doing while Bruce the shark tore through Amity’s waters, while Freddy Krueger slashed teenagers in the dreamscape, and while Jack Torrance chased his son through the maze-like halls of the Overlook? As it developed, It Lives Inside formed its own dual identity, much like mine. On the one hand, it is a love letter to the community and culture that raised me, while on the other, it is a visceral experience that is designed to instill the same raw terror in its viewers that my favorite horror films instilled in me.”
The movie introduces a demonic entity from Hindu mythology that feeds on negative energy. The Hindu scriptures called it “Pishach,” a flesh eater and devourer of souls. What sets the horror element apart is the understanding that Pishach cannot be fully vanquished but merely contained. The cinematography brilliantly mirrors the essence of the story. The interplay of light and shadows is carried out masterfully, becoming an essential tool in building tension and unease. The careful balance between these elements keeps the audience on the edge of their seats, capturing their attention and keeping them immersed in the eerie atmosphere. The film plays on our primal fears, making us constantly anticipate what lurks in the shadows.
For Megan Shuri, the actress playing the role of Samidha, ‘It Lives Inside’ marks her first horror debut. When asked about her experience while filming the movie, Samidha stated that she had a taste of the horror genre early on, particularly enjoying films like ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ during her formative years. The movies became a favorite for her and her sister, sparking their interest in gory horror flicks. Things became interesting when Samidha had the opportunity to work with Jessica Biel, a star she had known primarily from ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.’
During a conversation, Samidha questioned if Biel had genuinely been frightened by the antagonist in the film. However, Biel clarified that actors involved in such productions tend to form close bonds off-screen, dispelling the notion of real fear on set.
Megan further remarked- “And I feel like that really set up my experience for It Lives Inside because on screen it looks like this terrifying thing, but Jenaya Ross, who is this incredible contortionist, artist person — just amazing what she could do with her body, she’s the sweetest being you would ever imagine, so sweet, literally talks like this [quietly and softly], and is just so cute and adorable, and she’s playing this ginormous, terrifying monster. And it was like, “Oh, it’s not at all what you think it’s gonna be. It’s actually really having to act and having to pretend like you’re doing something,” because Jenaya was great.”
The film adeptly highlights the challenges and pressures faced by a teenager trying to assimilate into a foreign country. Samidha’s struggle to adjust to a new environment and fit in with her peers is also one of the central themes explored in the narrative. Through her eyes, we witness the journey of adapting to a different culture while dealing with the innate desire to belong.
Samidha’s decision to shorten her name to “Sam” in an attempt to align herself with her friends and be perceived as more “Cool” showcases the lengths to which she’s willing to go to fit into the societal mold. The fear of being seen as ‘simple’ or ‘weird’ fuels her desire to distance herself from her roots, a drudgery that resonates with many who have experienced the pressure to conform to societal norms.
In essence, ‘It Lives Inside’ delves into the universal struggle of teenagers in a foreign land, showcasing the poignant battle to find acceptance and belonging among new friends while grappling with the pressures to conform and shed cultural differences. Although the film is grounded in supernatural horror, its core narrative resonates with the authentic challenges that adolescents face when navigating unfamiliar territories and cultures. It sheds light on the deeply personal journey of identity and assimilation, making it a relatable and thought-provoking experience for audiences.