She Never Died is the “sister sequel” to He Never Died, which starred punk icon Henry Rollins (Suck, Lost Highway) as Jack, a grizzled immortal who has been alive since the Old Testament times. In this new installment, Olunike Adeliyi plays the role of the undying Lacey. Jason Krawczyk, who wrote and directed the first film, wrote the script for She Never Died, but stepped aside so that Audrey Cummings could sit in the director’s chair for this femme-centric supernatural thriller.
Living on the street, Lacey is witness to the worst of the city’s criminal underbelly. Dozens of young girls are kidnapped and transported to a Hostel-type dungeon where they are subjected to the sick fantasies of high-paying members of the elite and tortured on a dark web livestream viewed by hundreds. Lacey is consumed by a need to feast on flesh and feels the best way to satisfy that urge is to eat the men running this dungeon.
While pursing her prey, she bumps into Detective Godfrey (played by Peter MacNeill), who’s been staking out the dungeon in his off-duty hours. Godfrey has been able to identify the main players in the operation but has had no luck in shutting it down from lack of evidence. But when he sees Lacey walk out of the dungeon unfazed by a bullet to the head, he proposes a deal: he will provide Lacey with names and addresses, if she takes them out.
“…there’s a significance in seeing Lacey rip apart predatory men…”
She Never Died could almost stand as its own movie. There are no references to He Never Died. None of the characters are reoccurring, except for the mysterious Man in the Hat (though played by a different actor), an entity that only Jack and Lacey can see. Those of you who placed bets on different theories about the Man’s true identity after his appearance in the first film will, unfortunately, be left in suspense. There’s little explanation to Lacey’s origins or the reason for her powers, giving more screen time to explore the complexities of Godfrey or the villain Terrance (Noah Danby).
Adeliyi plays a character who has two sides waging war inside her head. For the most part, Lacey remains stoic and unflinching, even when someone is shoving a knife into her side or smacking her across the head with a bat. After experiencing a lifetime of pain, she barely reacts to it. But when her hunger for blood kicks in, she becomes animalistic. Her eyes go wide, her breathing turns into a growling, and she hunches her back, ready to pounce. Her sense of smell is heightened. She sniffs at her victims and comments on their diets, later admitting she’s getting sick of always eating junkies.
Just as the bulletproof Luke Cage resonated with audiences at a time when so many unarmed black men were being shot by policemen, there’s a significance in seeing Lacey rip apart predatory men, especially when women of color are often the target of violence. When Lacey infiltrates a trafficker’s apartment and unintentionally frees a girl from her captors, the girl, later introduced as Suzzie (Kiana Madeira), becomes absolutely fascinated with Lacey and follows her around like a loyal puppy (playing a similar role to Jack’s daughter Andrea in the previous film). Lacey prefers to stay isolated, but she can longer ignore the evil happening around her. She has become an unwilling beacon of hope in a city where women are scared to walk the streets alone out of fear they will be next one to go missing.
It might be worth revisiting He Never Died to see how it holds up with this recent addition to its lore. I remember being very fond of it, but I might be biased because I like anything with Henry Rollins in it. She Never Died has its moments of biting dark humor and adrenaline-pumping action, but I still found it rather forgettable. I predict there will be a lukewarm reception to its release, and then we’ll go about our lives until the next immortal cannibal shows up on the screen.
“She Never Died has its moments of biting dark humor and adrenaline-pumping action…”
I can’t help but think that Krawczyk wanted to expand the story into a trilogy based on the success of He Never Died. She Never Died is the unfortunate middle movie. There are a few plot points that are never fully resolved, and there’s mumblings of a Biblical apocalypse, that has little to do with Lacey’s story. The movie ends on a big infuriating cliff-hanger that begs for a follow-up. Perhaps in the third movie, we could see the return of Rollins’ character for an epic showdown (my best guess is that it will be called “They Never Died”). Will it be another four years before we see the conclusion, or has the script already been written and production is underway?
She Never Died celebrated its US premiere at Screamfest in Los Angeles on October 10, 2019. Let us know what you thought of She Never Died, or share your undying love for He Never Died with us on Twitter, in the Nightmare on Film Street Subreddit, and on Facebook in the Horror Movie Fiend Club!