Directed by: #AudreyCummings
Written by: #JasonKrawczyk
Audrey Cummings’ female-lead sequel to Jason Krawczyk’s, He Never Died, is a marvellously twisted superhero flick with biblical inflexions and a wicked streak a mile long. And while I’d definitely recommend watching He Never Died beforehand (something I wasn’t able to do), She Never Died still works as a great standalone movie.
Described as a ‘sister sequel’, She Never Died sees the immortal and cannibalistic Lacey (a powerhouse performance from Olunike Adeliyi) as she prays upon petty criminals for sustenance. It’s hard for Lacey to keep herself fed, usually taking only fingers as “They’re easier to carry, and I need the bone marrow”. Later quipping “I need a fridge”. She soon gets a chance of a fridge and a roof over her head when detective Godfrey (Peter MacNeill) witnesses her murder a member of the sickening sex trafficking, snuff movie-making gang – headed by brother and sister Terrance and Meredith (Noah Danby and Michelle Nolden) – he’s been trying to bring down.
Godfrey then asks Lacey to kill specific members of the group. In return, she can live in his spare apartment and eat their corpses—which she’s now able to store in her fridge. It’s during one of these “assignments” she discovers snuff film victim, Suzzie (Kiana Madeira), chained up to a bed. Initially scared, Suzzie soon warms up to Lacey and moves in with her. It’s this pivotal matchup of two women doing what they have to to survive that captures the heart of the audience. The chemistry between the two actresses is brilliant. Suitably unrelaxed at first – while Lacey fights with her desire to eat her guest – but, eventually, with genuine warmth, as the two women come to trust one another.
Cummings and Krawczyk have placed huge emphasis here on female empowerment, which the casting here plays into really well. Suzzie, in particular, is an incredibly grounding influence, for both Lacey and the audience; she’s our window into this bizarre story. And while she doesn’t have a vast amount of screentime, the importance of her relationship with Lacey can not be understated. So, whether it’s the ass-kicking immortal, Lacey; the wholly human but tough Suzzie; or Meredith, the head of a criminal empire—these are incredibly strong women. And they don’t need nor want your approval.
The only real issue here for me was the soundtrack, which I felt was uninspired and a little obnoxious; it seemed to repeat itself a lot. Other than that, I had a few questions go unanswered: what exactly was Lacey? Where did she come from? Are there many more like her? Are her kind widely known about? These could well be issues dealt with in the first film (He Never Died), or maybe even to be answered in a later movie. But for now, they remain unanswered questions. It’s also worth noting that it was the characters I really connected to, and it was the characters I was really invested in. This, of course, isn’t a complaint, but I’m not sure if I’d have enjoyed the movie as much if the characters weren’t written as they were; or played by who they were.
None of these issues was terribly offputting, however, and I still maintain She Never Died works perfectly well as a standalone film. There’s a really technically proficient movie here, with fabulous visual design and effects, and a surprising amount of warmth and depth in its writing. And, in spite of a less than stellar soundtrack and several questions that remain unanswered, She Never Died is an entertaining, gritty, and fresh take on the all-to-familiar superhero formula.
I look forward to seeing more from these characters in the future.