Teenager Sam (Megan Suri) has a challenging life. At school, she constantly struggles to fit in and make new friends. There are some frustrations in her home life, too. After getting ready for school one day, Sam’s mother reminds her that they are to prepare a meal together. Sam puts off her mother’s requests, telling her she’s too busy and uninterested, rolling her eyes at family traditions of past generations.
During Sam’s day at school, a student named Tamira (Mohana Krishnan) walks into class late, holding a glass jar. Instantly, Sam seems awkward. After a conversation with her teacher, we learn that Sam and Tamira were once close friends. The teacher is concerned about them both; making friends in high school isn’t always the most straightforward task. Tamira continues to act strangely around other students, continually walking around with a glass jar and appearing out of nowhere. Tamira’s strange behaviour and creepiness keep others away from her, including Sam. However, we soon discover that Tamira’s odd behaviour is caused by some evil spirit that has taken hold of her, continually tormenting her. In desperation, Tamira speaks with Sam, telling her she has a monster inside her jar and needs her help. Sam pushes Tamira away, claiming she’s just a crazy psycho. As she does so, Sam knocks the jar out of Tamira’s hands, smashing it to the ground. Little does Sam know, but she has just unleashed something terrible.
It Lives Inside is best described as a horror film with a minor thriller vibe. Visually, the film is quite dark, with a solid atmosphere throughout the entire duration. Along with the atmosphere, the horror elements are also significant and creepy. This includes the mysterious demon-like monster that begins to stalk our main lead. Those who enjoy horror films will be treated with violent kills and dream sequences, which are nightmare-worthy. The sound effects and bass-filled musical score by Wesley Hughes add suspense, which is fantastic.
As for the pace, It Lives Inside takes a little while for everything to get underway, including introducing the flesh-eating monster. For the vast majority, I was curious to know more about the threat and better understand if Sam would successfully overcome and defeat it. Sadly, the third act/finale is predictable and dragged on far longer than it should. While the various kills are gruesome, some of these scenes also drag on far longer than ideal. Watching a character wander around is painful, even more so when you know how it ends. What’s even more disappointing is when we witness emotionless characters, especially when they encounter this evil demon or when they witness a brutal murder right in front of them.
Overall, It Lives Inside is a horror film that introduces a great concept and a fun atmosphere with its visuals. With predictable and familiar pacing in many areas, it feels more aimed at teenage audiences. This is particularly evident in the set of the final act. The demon-like presence that stalks our lead is solid, and some of the kills that occur are also shocking. Sadly, while the story is pleasing and enjoyable, there’s not a great deal here that will leave its viewers screaming in their cinema seats. Ultimately, it’s okay, and thankfully, the film still carries some entertainment value.
It Lives Inside (2023) is Available in Australian Cinemas from September 21st.