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It Lives Inside

Bishal Dutta’s horror film uses Hindu mythology similarly to how THE EXORCIST used Catholicism.

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In the basement of a typical American suburb home there’s a bloody corpse and an empty jar next to it. Whatever the jar contained has disappeared. Indian-American teenager Tamira (Mohana Krishnan) brings the same jar to the high school cafeteria shortly after. She looks very jittery, with emtpy eyes and stringy hair in the typical RINGU look. Her former best friend Samidha, nicknamed Sam (Megan Suri), wants to have nothing to do with Tamira anymore and just be an American. The embarrassing ex-BFF, who follows Hindu traditions, also stands in the way of Sam's crush on the nice school demigod Russ. Teacher Joyce asks Samidha to talk to Tamira, and she just about manages to tell her that something evil is living in the jar before it breaks and Tamira mysteriously disappears. Sam has to grapple with her traditions, because the evil spirit originates from Hindu mythology: a human eating Pishacha that is summoned by sadness.

Bishal Dutta’s film uses Hindu mythology similarly to how THE EXORCIST uses Catholicism. Mantras help like Christian prayers, and sexual desire is punished. Amazingly, Dutta chooses to tell the story of teenagers who struggle with cultural traditions from a conservative perspective. Whether this is due to Dutta's preference for classic horror or, as some Indian-American critics suggest, needs to be understood in the context of the internationally growing right-wing Hindutva movement, is difficult to judge from my relatively clueless perspective. IT LIVES INSIDE is clearly a debut and is more interesting because of its unusual motifs than because of its horror factor.

Tom Dorow (INDIEKINO MAGAZIN)

Translation: Elinor Lewy

Credits

USA 2023, 99 min
Genre: Horror
Director: Bishal Dutta
Author: Bishal Dutta
DOP: Matthew Lynn
Montage: Jack Price
Music: Wesley Hughes
Distributor: Alamode Filmverleih
Cast: Megan Suri, Neeru Bajwa, Mohana Krishnan, Betty Gabriel, Vik Sahay
Release: 02.11.2023

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Screenings

  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles
English/with English subtitles
All languages

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