Wednesday, November 20, 2019

BiTS ’19: She Never Died

Unless you are a vampire, immortality usually isn’t much fun in movies. Lacey is a case in point. Initially, she appears to lead a feral, animal-like existence, but she applies a strict moral code to determine who she will kill and feed off. Lacey will find plenty of evil-doers who deserve to have their marrow consumed in Audrey Cummings’ She Never Died, the companion-sequel to Jason Krawczyk’s He Never Died, scripted by Krawczyk himself, which screens at this year’s Blood in the Snow Film Festival.

Blessed with immortality and Wolverine-like healing powers, “Lacey” subsists on bone marrow rather than blood. That is why she often removes the fingers of her prey (you could call it finger-food). Of course, such distinctive corpses are likely to draw attention, but in this mid-sized post-industrial Midwest burg, only Charlie Godfrey, a disillusioned but fundamentally decent detective on the verge of retirement, does any serious police work. 

Lacey’s bodies definitely catch his interest, but he is even more concerned about the Remender Siblings’ human trafficking and sicko dark web video enterprise. Lacey has been staking out the Remenders too, so when she crosses paths with Godfrey, he suggests an unlikely alliance.

She Never Died is brutally violent, but enormously effective. There is nothing left to the imagination regarding what goes on inside these warehouse dungeons, so shrinking violets should consider themselves warned. However, the film has a real sense of morality and offers up some serious cathartic payback. Weirdly, it also opens a huge window into the wider mythology of the world in the final minutes, teasing some cosmic cataclysms to come in potential future films.

Regardless, Olunike Adeliyi is not mucking about as Lacey. If you want to see a female-led genre film, She Never Died puts Charlie’s Angels (any of them) to ignoble, humiliated shame. In fact, Meredith Remender is a much more formidable villain than her knuckle-headed brother Terrance. Yet, the irony is most of Lacey’s audience are likely to be red meat-gnawing men.

Adeliyi is beyond fierce in what should be a breakout, star-making performance. You have to go back to Kim Ok-vin in The Villainess to see something comparable. She takes no prisoners in her action scenes, but she still poignantly finds and expresses Lacey’s dignity and humanity. It is her film, but Peter MacNeill is also terrific as the world-weary Godfrey.

Cummings and Krawczyk definitely are not afraid of a little grindhouse grunge, but She Never Dies is a serious, no-quarter-offered film. It somewhat de-emphasizes the fantastical elements of the first film, in favor of pedal-to-the-metal street-fighting action. Highly recommended for hardcore genre fans, She Never Die screens this Friday (11/22), as part of Blood in the Snow, in Toronto.