She Never Died (Grimmfest 2019) Review: Pulp Fiction About Immortals, Of Course Nevertheless, She Persisted

3.5

Summary

The “sister sequel” to He Never Died (2015), Audrey Cummings’ She Never Died is a violent yet nicely laidback horror-thriller that ends with a smile.

I didn’t know what to expect from a “gender-switching sequel” to Jason Krawczyk’s He Never Died, but I am pleased to declare that She Never Died is not simply a retelling of the same story with genders reversed. It features Lacey (Oluniké Adeliyi), a similar “immortal” to Henry Rollins’ Jack, in a story all of her own, but in a world they both share: it shows us that Jack’s world and his story are bigger than just him.

Lacey’s story is not one of estranged offspring, but film noir-style renegade cops vs. underworld, with equally film noir-style dry humour and half-empty diner. Like Jack in He Never Died, Lacey doesn’t strictly like having to eat people, and so directs that habit to, you know, bad guys, Dexter-style. What happens in the early part of this film is almost inevitable then: she captures the interest of both a police detective and a grateful young woman who had been through a lot at the hands of someone she kills. Therein lies the story, and it’s a simple one yet entertaining.

Adeliyi is an excellent choice for this role, turning Lacey into a majestic yet humble character who could have been right at home in American Gods, where I first saw her. Like Rollins’ Jack, she is “socially awkward” (is that a euphemism for autistic, or just voluntarily sheltered?) and keeps to herself a lot of the time; but we get to see a lot more of what happens when her instincts are aroused than we did Jack’s.

Of the other main characters, there are essentially two baddies and two goodies; though these are very much shades of dark grey, rather than clear black and white, in proper pulp fiction tradition. The baddies are super-bad, though (into trafficking and snuff), a brother-and-sister pair like in Rampage. The lighter-grey two are a little more well-rounded: Peter MacNeill plays Godfrey, the detective who shares a common target with Lacey on her vigilante days; and Kiana Madeira plays Suzzie, who Lacey frees, and who helps Lacey in return. They have little choice but to accept Lacey’s nature – after a little questioning, of course – and neither has much to lose in doing so.

Jason Krawczyk, who wrote and directed He Never Died, wrote this new film; and thus there is a continuity of style to some degree between the two films. His is – as far as I can tell – the only name in common between the two, so it’s actually pretty impressive how well this works as a follow-up in the same world. The production is a little more polished, and Cummings’ direction brings the characters and the writing to life with style.

She Never Died can be enjoyed perfectly well in its own right, or as a “sister sequel” to the earlier film. And just as John Wick 2 showed us, a mythos can be broader than it first seems. I can’t help wondering if there might be a film called They Never Died sometime in the near future.


For more recaps, reviews and original features covering the world of entertainment, why not follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page?

Alice Field

Alice has been writing for Ready Steady Cut since November 2017. She covers a wide variety, including genre festivals, and especially appreciates wit and representation on screen.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: