SHE NEVER DIED **** Canada 2019 Dir: Audrey Cummings. 89 mins
A companion piece to the Henry Rollins movie HE NEVER DIED (2015), from the same writer (Jason Krawczyk) and directed by the rising filmmaker behind DARKEN. It has a remarkable central performance from Olunike Adeliyi (recently seen as Shadow’s mom in AMERICAN GODS) as the monosyllabic, mysterious Lacey, who is shot in the head by villains early on but still manages – with ease – to gouge out (and eat) their eyeballs. Lacey is immortal, fast healing and hungry for flesh (especially fingers – though she is also partial to oatmeal…). She’s also outcast and living on the streets. Sympathetic veteran detective Peter MacNeill – to whom she admits murder – gives her somewhere to stay and, realising her abilities, wants her to track down and kill a pair of sibling people-traffickers : the black clad Noah Dalton Danby and Michelle Nolden, who kidnap women via the dark web. Although built around a seemingly impenetrable, deadpan enigma of a protagonist, SHE NEVER DIED finds humour in both her character (“That’s why I could use a fridge…”) and in her unlikely partnership with a curious, excitable self-harming young woman (Kiana Madeira, really appealing) whom she rescues from being shipped into slavery. “You sound like a vampire” Madeira enthuses about Lacey, whose character – and the culture-clash dynamic with those she befriends – has pleasing echoes of earlier franchise movies THE PROPHECY and WARLOCK. It balances a fantastical central character with a gritty urban environment – and inevitably, an imminent apocalypse – while juggling hard-edged violence with wit and broadly horrible villains. Well worth a double bill with the Rollins picture.
Review by Steven West