Topic 1 Post

It Lives Inside

‘It Lives Inside’

I generally enjoyed the well-made It Lives Inside, but: You’re a teen out to see a movie during Halloween season. Do you want to see a rote horror flick with a slight cultural twist, or do you want a fresh auteur to really go ham on a novel premise?

It Lives Inside is Puritan in the American horror fashion (kid with doobie is a goner), but falls prey to the same thing it accuses its heroine of: pointlessly wanting to whitewash itself and fit into a samey genre.

To be clear, I’m not saying it should be more Indian—it’s already culturally reactionary, following that American horror trope. I’m saying importing more of the original folklore is one way the movie could be more novel in the US.

(Horror is Puritan because fear is conservative. If there’s a moment of joy at a party, all those kids are getting chomped. The lizard hind-brain speaks and it wants to be under a nice, safe rock.)

The pishach monster from Indian folklore manifests as a very American horror template, from the art style in a previous victim’s notebook to the creature design.

Of course, these monsters never make evolutionary sense as actual predators. Why is this invisible, over-powered flesh render quietly fasting for Karwa Chauth in some girl’s closet? They only make sense as anxieties monetized by jump scares.

The most universal monster anxieties are echoes of our prehistory past, when lions, bears and sabertooths actually did prey on humans. Before our Chinese cousins invented gunpowder, before we wiped out the California state beast.

To maximize ticket sales, it might make sense to reflect the anxieties of the American target audience. But why not ride on xenophobia in addition to fear of predation? Why not a wicked-looking golem from Indian folklore?

This flick’s concept of soul-eating and possession are Christian, not Hindu; the monster design is from the Spirit Halloween remainder bin, and it laughs like the Predator. The title track, “Teeth” by Mallrat, is sleek and Western. Only the faint outline of the folklore remains, nearly invisible like the monster itself.

It’s shabby treatment for a monster that’s a metaphor for Indianness. Samidha, facing a demon from the old country that can live inside its victims: “Everything I wanted outside of me is inside”

The movie should’ve gone harder on “the monster feasts on immigrant angst” since its PG-13 horror stuff is rote. So much stuff to unpack there.

Count Abdulla explored its brown × genre (horror-comedy) premise better. What Lives Inside is apparently artistic self-doubt.

In more detail

Conceptual problems aside, the movie was fun and slick, keeping in mind that I watch everything at 1.7× speed.

The monster discriminates, savaging others but only eating desis made tasty by our incredible food. Transmits itself between desi kids like a brown The Ring.

The real monster is Samidha after her high-school whitewashing, her words cut deeper than fangs.

Brown and black characters don’t die first 👍🏽

All the non-desi characters call the monster a “pishaash.” French-inflected mispronunciation undefeated.

Bengali director, Punjabi and Tamil leads: all flattened to generic N. Indian Hindu, mirroring the flattening of the monster lore to generic Christian American. But the deity is Durga, who’s more Bengali than U.P.—?

These horror-movie tropes depend on parents and kids not talking. Indian-Ams talk about the major stuff, big crises, and a desi kid wouldn’t run off after a demon alone.

Dad Vik Sahay’s Hindi is atrocious, not realistic.

De-yetifying herself :)
The most desi thing Samidha does
Who sends their kid to school in America with tiffins?
Checking for curry smell, the whitewash is strong in this one
Subtitler thinks prayer day is a named holiday :)
ABCD religion
Calc is genetic?
Olive branch to the white market
“Say something in Hindu”
The worst Hindi you’ve ever heard :)
The real monster
If only she had a FineWoven case or a thermos
Why is Samidha leaving the demon-slayer goddess puja?
Things no immigrant parent would say
Western bhoot
Kachcha maans, raw meat

Wiki clone needs proofers
Camaro, pickup 🏳️🏳️🏳️
A pivotal iPhone flashlight
Monster (2023)
Oh yeah, this kid’s a goner
Dancing the invisible bhangra with the pishach
Mom is literally the exposition for the monster
Indianness is the real demon
Black teacher explains Indian culture to Indian kid: white liberal achievement unlocked ✓ :)
Western art style
Yeah, I’m mapping flashlight to the Action button
Kid explaining Indian culture to her mom: brown liberal achievement unlocked ✓
Christian voodoo
Christian blerg
The defense mantra is too basic, should’ve gone tantric
Layers and layers of guilt, delve into this
Pishach wastes veg feast. That’s it, kill that f—r
Subtitler thinks routine prayer before meal is chanting
Veg forced to eat raw meat is the real violation