In a lot of horror movies, demons plague our world. The monster is a part of the folklore of several cultures, including that of Indians. This horror entry at this year’s SXSW gives the audience a look at the supernatural beliefs that exist within the culture of Indian people and feels quite akin to other horrific folk stories to which many of us are accustomed.

Megan Suri stars as Sam, an Indian-American teen who has reservations about her culture and background. Sam wants to fit in with all her typical American classmates and just wants to be a part of the popular crowd. However, these desires often clash with her family’s and culture’s more traditional values. These personal challenges double when another Indian classmate, Tamira (Mohana Krishnan), gets caught up in a supernatural plot that could threaten everyone she holds dear.

Written and directed by Bishal Dutta, who co-wrote the film with Ashish Mehta, It Lives Inside is a mostly riveting and compelling horror movie that deals with a genuine and insightful examination of the American teen experience for people whose parents are immigrants. The development of Sam’s character feels very real in that she desires to fit in her high school society, even if it means sacrificing the influence of her culture. Dutta does a great job of addressing these issues within a horror milieu. The director utilizes the appropriate horror imagery and beats to add to the gravity of the experience.

As much of the cast is of Indian background, the film works so well on realistic levels that it doesn’t matter that the story involves supernatural elements from Indian mythology. While the movie has its moderate weaknesses, I still found myself compelled and moved by the events. It Lives Inside is a movie I highly recommend for horror fans, but I also recommend it for those interested in the darker elements of Indian culture.

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