Cinema/TV, Film Notes

FrightFest review – It Lives Inside

FrightFest review – It Lives Inside

Though it has fine performances, nothing quite gels in writer/director Bishal Dutta’s It Lives Inside – it dawdles when it should be gripping, and there’s a minimalism about the ‘ordinary’ set-up which makes the intrusion of the demonic less disturbing than it ought to be.  In a familiar scenario, teenage Samidha (Megan Suri) – introduced shaving her arms – is called ‘Sam’ at school and tries to play down her race and culture, but repeatedly has snits with her traditionalist mother Poorna (Neeru Bajwa) about taking part in family and religious events.  At school, she’s haunted by the spectre of her former best friend Tamira (Mohana Krishnan), from whom she’s distanced herself to hang around with American kids – a guy called Russ (Gage Marsh) likes her – but who has become a neurotic mess, eating her lunch alone under the bleachers and carrying a jar of dirt around.

It’s hard to reconcile the idea of an almost all-anglo school with the thriving Indian immigrant community who show up at Samidha’s house – and given what’s in the jar (yes, a demon) Tamira would have to be actually crazy to carry the thing around like a fetish object (yes, Sam breaks it and lets the mostly invisible thing out) rather than hide it somewhere safe.  When the usually invisible demon is loose, it stalks and mangles – leading to a death of a key supporting character which ought to polarise the community and be a significant influence on the way the story develops but is just shrugged off by everyone to concentrate on the shrunk cast of key characters.

The demon sets out to give a hard time to Sam and anyone who might help her – including the always-welcome Betty Gabriel as an understanding teacher – and might also be up for eating people (when we see it, it has enough teeth to suggest its hunger) but aside from representing the heroine’s cultural roots it’s hard to see what it’s really doing.  Dutta brings out a practical effects critter which is enough to boost the horrors in the last act and Suri reacts with fetching terror and determination – though the solution to her woes strikes me as temporary at best and probably even more foolish than the carry-a-jar bit.  It’s also a little too mild – a couple of characters are given apparent death scenes but get better.

Here’s the FrightFest listing.



No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: