IT LIVES INSIDE is an exciting meditation on culture and horror, a unique blend of classic horror tropes from the 70s and 80s and the cultural experiences of director Bishal Dutta.

Dutta uses horror to precisely capture the anxieties that accompany the immigrant experience, then uses culture to subvert expectations and comment on horror genre tropes.

Although the film’s message was rather derivative, carried in a story like this one, it was still powerful. A significant cross-section of contemporary South Asian-American filmography, like BLINDED BY THE LIGHT and NEVER HAVE I EVER, documents the experience of immigrant teens, highlighting the pressures of assimilation and the tug-of-war between the two sides of a hyphenated identity, but few approach the subject with such intricate storytelling and commitment to genre as Dutta.

And, although the film sometimes slips into cheesiness and faux-profundity, it is still a welcome respite from the inundation of Biblical horror films, and despite its PG-13 rating, maintains a decent level of terror with a phenomenal score from composer Wesley Hughes.

Incorporating vivid elements of South Asian culture and inspiration from horror classics like A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, Dutta ultimately creates a delightful creature feature that, while not as bold or clever as films from the same producers like GET OUT, still promises to frighten and fascinate.

Experience IT LIVES INSIDE now in theaters.

Tavish Mohanti

Tavish Mohanti is a student at UCLA passionate about food, film, and journalism who hopes to one day write comedy like Taika Waititi. His mutts are the loves of my life.

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An Indian-American teenager struggling with her cultural identity has a falling out with her former best friend and, in the process, unwittingly releases a demonic entity that grows stronger by feeding on her loneliness.


ATMOSPHERE- I appreciate small-scale horror films (usually the ones done by NEON or A24) that creatively use lighting, camera work, and actual silence (Way more important than you may think) to emphasize the moments of dread/terror throughout a film.

Also, I think it may be kind of common knowledge at this point to know that horror films done by the arthouse studio NEON (TITANE, INFINITY POOL, and BORDER, for example) typically have a better aesthetic than pretty much any studio that works with much larger budgets that does these kind of films. That is certainly the case here.

THE 3RD ACT- A horror film connoisseur to speak to this better than I can admit, but I do feel that the one thing that is the best way to judge the quality of small-time horror films such as this one… is how it sticks the landing. How do you present your antagonist? How engrossing has your lead protagonist been by the time they have to fight the antagonist? How good is the climactic scene of your film when these two characters inevitably clash?

The good news is that this film does almost all the right things when it comes to answering these questions. It doesn’t go above and beyond in any sense, but it doesn’t do anything absurd.


THE “HORROR MOVIE RULES”- In my humblest of opinions, good horror films set “rules” for the antagonists. Things like their weaknesses, what makes them stronger, perhaps even where they’re from, and their motivations.

The bad horror movies invent new ways for the bad guys to be more powerful as the film goes along, or they don’t explain a damn thing about how a bad guy has the powers that they have or what can be done to stop them. This film does the latter with a lazy approach to having the antagonist simply be a supernatural creature and not explain anything else. Because this happens, a new superpower will just pop up out of nowhere, and you’re just like…

Is it that supernatural horror films have the license just to have a supernatural entity have Cosmic Armor Superman-type powers during the film’s climactic scene out of nowhere, and I’m just a D-bag for being annoyed whenever movies like this drop that into my lap? I truly don’t believe so. Details are important.


I don’t watch a lot of horror movies these days. It’s a conflict that recently developed deep within me, and I often wonder why. Then I watch a film like this and realize I can’t take stupid character decision-making very well.

Characters making brazenly stupid decisions that normal people simply would not make under the same circumstances just so that we can start doing horror movie stuff by the 15th minute of the film is an easy way to shatter my suspension of disbelief completely. I, of course, will not spoil the incredibly irrational and unintelligent decision that sets off this film’s events; I will say that this decision is made by the film’s main character, who is the worst character to choose to do the dumb thing.


It lives inside it’s a film that does the best with its potential in every way but the story. A couple of moments in this film could have resonated a lot more if the circumstances in which combating evil were explained more thoroughly.

Honestly, that is not a lot to ask from a horror film, but we’re so used to this genre being the easy money-quick fix-fast-food-like genre for a studio’s box office that story and character are distant second places to all of the other technical stuff.

IT LIVES INSIDE is in theaters now.

Eli Brumfield

Eli Brumfield in an actor/screenwriter from Seattle Washington, living in Los Angeles.

He is the host of the RV8 Podcast.

He hates the word cinefile, but considering how many films he consumes in a week...and how many films he goes out of his way to see, no matter the genre...he kinda seems to be one.

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