Friday, April 24, 2020

She Never Died – review

Director: Audrey Cummings

Release date: 2019

Contains spoilers

You may recall the Henry Rollins vehicle He Never Died, of which I mooted “that whilst unorthodox it was most definitely a vampire movie.” This is not the sequel, as such, whilst in the same universe it has a wholly different cast. Rather, I have seen it described as a sister movie – which seems a good description.

Unlike its sibling this is narrower in focus (barring some coda information around the wider universe that I will spoil as it may be important lore-wise but will not spoil the primary story). It pretty much eschews the comedy aspects that were in the original and it also actually mentions the V word in a quite knowing moment of dialogue.

walking at night
So it starts with a woman walking down a street at night, she seems nervous and the posters regarding missing women suggests to us why. She walks past a guy who is soon following her. She nips down an alley (the question, why, of course springs to mind – you are being followed, so go down the dark alleyway!) He calls after her, suggesting that she has dropped money – she denies this and he grabs at her. Suddenly he is pummelled away by another woman, Lacey (Olunike Adeliyi, Lost Girl & Being Human (US)). She tells the first woman she can go and turns her attention to the man.

Peter MacNeill as Godfrey
Its 2:15 and Detective Godfrey (Peter MacNeill) awakens. He finds himself at his desk with case files and the maddening feeling that he is getting nowhere with his case. At work, later that morning, his captain wants him at the daily briefing (clearly, he’s been missing them). He sneaks off and goes to a car park where he is waiting to watch a person of interest – Terrance (Noah Dalton Danby, also Lost Girl & Hemlock Grove). He monitors Terrance as he crosses the car park and goes to his place of “business”.

Olunike Adeliyi as Lacey
Lacey is sleeping rough – she is awakened by another homeless person who tells her the man with the rings (Terrance) has passed. She goes after him and rips the latch from the door – Godfrey sees her from afar and she looks straight at him before going in. Inside one of Terrance’s lackeys, Jerry ( Edsson Morales), is recording and live streaming a guy playing Russian roulette where he takes a shot at a dog (with money on its collar) and the next at his own head. Suddenly Lacey is in and kills the player but not before he shoots her in the head – she ignores the wound. Jerry runs deeper into the building as she takes the money from the dog and releases it… By the time Jerry gets back with Terrance she has gone – as have the dead man’s fingers. Godfrey sees her outside, a hole in her forehead and a big hole at the back of the skull – he ignores her to check out the insides.

eating fingers
So, Godfrey is pretty grey as a cop. He doesn’t call in the incident and uses his skills to track Lacey down and asks her to kill an associate of Terrance – he feels that the justice system isn’t working – in return he gives her a place to stay with a fridge (she takes the fingers because they are easy to carry and she needs the marrow but can't take too much as it rots). This is a move from what we saw in the previous film, where Cain did drink blood and marrow wasn’t mentioned. Whilst she is doing the job she, eventually, rescues a girl that was due for trafficking, Suzzie (Kiana Madeira). It is Suzzie who mentions vampires (after asking if Lacey is a robot or zombie, with no reaction), Lacey is adamant she is not a vampire but Suzzie says it sounds like she is one – the dialogue perhaps a reflection of the brother film being deemed vampire, paired with the initial aim of the filmmakers plus a recognition that both fall within the genre tropes, whether purposefully or otherwise.

Lacey bound
The film simply concentrates on the interactions between the good guys and bad guys – I won’t spoil that but will say that Lacey has the same unhealed wounds at the back, as Cain had, is generally a vegetarian as Cain was and sees the same mysterious man appearing occasionally. She is heavier than she appears and has some control issues (attacking Suzzie when she awakens at one point). At the coda of the film she admits that her name is Lilith – now there is no reasoning for the wounds (like wings hacked away) on Lilith – the first woman, or Cain – the child of Adam and Eve. She says she had a child once but cannot remember him. We also, at the coda, see another immortal looking for someone (Lilith?) as the apocalypse is coming and also a row of four motorbikes with Revelations related license plates – the 4 bikers/horsemen, clearly. This fits with Suzzie suggesting that they are heading to the end of the world (though Lilith denied it in their dialogue, saying that every generation thinks so and it never is).

Kiana Madeira as Suzzie
This was nicely put together, though a touch of the humour from the brother film would have been welcome. The photography is dark and the colours muted, offering a bleaker atmosphere that the first film. The narrow view was fair but there were moments that realistically needed expanding on for narrative building purposes. All the actors do their jobs well but Olunike Adeliyi is superbly stoic as Lacey/Lilith, offering us a very barely held back rage and also a level of dissociation that might indicate the character being neurodivergent (something I noticed with Cain in the previous film). Obviously looking to build a wider vista generally – I enjoyed this for what it was. 6 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

On Demand @ Amazon UK

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