How ‘It Lives Inside’ Brings Hindu Mythology to Horror

The Megan Suri-starrer taps into familiar feelings of otherness to create a new visual language for the global genre.

megan suri it lives inside
Megan Suri in 'It Lives Inside' (2023)

Sadaf Ahsan


September 28, 2023


8 min

“The ayahs said never to sleep with a bad feeling in our hearts, because there’s a dark thing that feeds on those feelings…It doesn’t kill you right away, it eats you slowly. When it’s ready, it eats your soul.”

Poorna (Neeru Bajwa) delivers this warning to her daughter Samidha or “Sam” (Megan Suri), an Indian American high schooler, in the horror drama It Lives Inside, which hit theaters on September 22. The sentiment is enough to send chills down one’s back. Yet, for many, the tale is as old as time, one we’ve heard as a parent or grandparent tucks us into bed. The Pishach is an infamous figure in Hinduism and Buddhism, a demonic entity that preys on negative energy. 

In bringing It Lives Inside to life, first-time feature director and writer Bishal Dutta (with Ashish Mehta co-writing) joins other Black and Brown directors — the likes of Jordan Peele, M. Night Shyamalan, and Nuhash Humayun — in resurrecting cultural legends and beliefs for the big screen. And thanks to those before him, Dutta found building his own scary world was no longer the impossible feat it may have once been.

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