23rd Apr2020

‘She Never Died’ VOD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Olunike Adeliyi, Peter MacNeill, Noah Danby, Michelle Nolden, Kiana Madeira, Lawrence Gowan | Written by Jason Krawczyk | Directed by Audrey Cummings

[NOTE: With the film quietly slipping on to VOD in the UK, US and Canada this week, he’s a reposting of our review of She Never Died from its festival screening last year]

Back in 2015, a little, some might say unknown, movie made its UK debut as part of that years Grimmfest. That film was He Never Died, the Henry Rollins-starring vampire movie that was easily one of the best films I’d seen that year. Skip forward four years and another film in the series, entitled She Never Died, makes it’s European debut at the same festival… Yes, we have not a sequel but more of a gender-switching of that first film with the badass Canadian actress Olunike Adeliyi (American Gods) stepping into the formidable shoes of Henry Rollins as this films lead. Whilst writer/director Jason Krawczyk also trades places, giving up the directorial reigns to Audrey Cummings (Darken, Tormented) to complete this female-focused take on vampire lore.

She Never Died tells the story of Lacey, a socially detached loner, who is cursed with immortality and a never-ending tedium of existence. In her attempts to keep her compulsions in check, she seeks out the darkest souls humanity has to offer, oftentimes facing her own inner demons while simultaneously finding her next meal.

Expanding on the mythos of the original film She Never Died also pushes the brutality (and savagery) and the humour to new heights too. After all, we know what Lacey is, and what she can do – the mystery of who or what the lead character is is no longer there – so Jason Krawczyk’s script fills the gaps in the overall “world” of these films, showing us another side of the coin, how someone survives in less spectacular fashion than Rollins’ Jack ever did. Where Jack tried to bury his hunger in the mundanity of life, Lacey is the opposite – the mundanity to her is tedious and she instead tries to pass the time in the pursuit of the lowest of the low, the people traffickers, the criminals, using them for food in a kind of biblical vengeance. Something of a more literal “eye for an eye”, though in this case it’s more like fingers!

Lacey is immediately a more interesting character than Jack in the first film. Less “human” that Rollins’ Jack, she feels more like a woman resigned to her fate; she doesn’t care like Jack did, she doesn’t want to fit in like Jack did – whilst she’s seemingly from the same stock as Jack was (as in she’s an immortal being chomping down on folks to live) she’s not the same as Jack – you see, it’s not only genders that are switched here, motivations and characterisations are too. Though to be fair, Lacey is as quiet as Jack ever was but her kind of quiet seems a LOT more deadly than Jack’s!

Besides Lacey’s story, She Never Died also has a sub-plot regarding people-trafficking, dark web torture-shows and snuff movies and whilst it may be the plot device that keeps this story moving, it’s never as interesting as Lacey herself. Though Noah Dalton Danby, who plays Terrance, the psychopath who revels in the pain of others – and Lacey – for his own pleasure (and to make money of course) is a brilliant foil for Olunike Adeliyi. Wheres she brings the aforementioned quiet psychosis, his performance is all external – making the characters somewhat equal but also opposite. Yet, for all his faults you can’t help but like Terrance somewhat and that’s all on Danby; who brings a likability to even the most evil of characters!

Whilst its not as revelatory as the original movie, She Never Died is a perfect companion piece for that film. Whereas He Never Died featured a brash rock and roll icon in a quiet, understated role; She Never Died features a quiet character in a totally brash rock and roll horror, that isn’t afraid to unleash the kind of psychotic frenzy you expected from Rollins’ character (given Rollins’ personality), but have it instead unleashed by a strong black woman in what is a truly feminine take on the vampiric lore of the franchise.

And best of all? She Never Died leaves things wide open for more stories in this universe. Something I’m more than excited to see.

**** 4/5

She Never Died is available on VOD now.


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