If you loved the storytelling and style of “He Never Died”, its sequel captures that vibe while creating its own vast world and interesting characters.
From the start, She Never Died shows off a stylish noir environment that its predecessor, He Never Died, was so good at capturing. Sometimes a movie is able to seize a specific sensation with its opening shot and carry it throughout the entire film, as we’ve seen in films such as 28 Days Later, Children of the Corn, and The Girl with All the Gifts.
This movie utilizes camera angles along with tone and color to mimic He Never Died while building much more dread that its predecessor, resulting in suffocating, atmospheric tension. She Never Died not only captures the darkest aspects of life but manages to keep building momentum as it fully forms the world around it.
For fans of atmospheric horror, the constant sensations that this movie creates will be more than enough to make it enjoyable.
She Never Died succeeds in all critical areas of film. There are very few flaws in this film. A single scene that contains sloppy CGI is the only complaint I can muster regarding this beautifully shot creation.
However, it’s time to rip off a Band-Aid: Henry Rollins does not reprise his role as Jack in She Never Died. Despite the slight hinting that his daughter might, in some way, be afflicted by his curse, she is not a part of She Never Died and the main character seems to have no noticeable relation to Jack.
The main character of this story is Lacey, played by the incredibly talented and perhaps even more intimidating Olunike Adeliyi (Saw 3D, The Prodigy, Workin’ Moms). Lacey and Jack are strikingly similar characters, as both are loners without many ties to the rest of the world. While Jack managed to live a simple but well taken care of life, at the start of the film Lacey is living on the streets with only a little bit of money and the clothing on her back.
Unlike Jack, little is learned by the audience about Lacey. Lacey seemingly stumbles upon a human trafficking ring, which ends up throwing her into a detective’s long running game of cat and mouse with those in charge. Who she is and why she is cursed seems to be as much a mystery to her as it is to the audience.
Some films would crumble under this level of ambiguity; however, She Never Dies flourishes.
Writer Jason Krawczyk proves that this unique writing skill is one of his biggest strengths by creating such an interesting and driven character who remains an enigma for the majority of the film. Lacey never gets the same kind of story that Jack does; her back story is almost non-existent. While Jack has wit and a strange charm that creates most of the humorous elements in He Never Died, Lacey creates humor with her stark contrast to the world around her.
Her complete lack of understanding social cues and interactions coupled with Olunike’s deadpan delivery turn some of the darkest scenes into ones the audience can’t help but chuckle at. The dialogue is always precise, and even the villains’ (Noah Danby, Painkiller Jane and Michelle Nolden, Saving Hope) slightly comical bickering helps display how truly monstrous they are.
They bring a twisted level of likability by celebrating in the glory that is the eventual bloodbath of the film’s climax.
Another major difference between the two films, we see that where Jack tried to subdue the monster within him, Lacey behaves like a blood-fueled, murdering machine from the first moment we lay eyes on her.
She behaves like a feral beast and isn’t afraid of her rampages being seen by anyone. Her introduction alone cements her as something far more intimidating than any part of He Never Died, which also provides an avenue to display the film’s greatly improved practical effects work. From crunching bones to bullet holes, the quality of said effects showcase the level of technical effort that was put into making this film so great.
The film consistently references the original, giving it the credit it deserves while proudly declaring its independence.
More of a sister sequel than anything, She Never Died expands on the world and sets up the potential for some pretty intense sequels in the franchise.
As a fan of this type of horror, I am extremely excited to see what more could be offered, and I am holding out hope that we get to see Lacey and Jack interact in a future film. Whether they will meet as friend or foe is unknown, but I imagine both of their monstrous characters are likely bound for bigger and bloodier things.
You can’t keep a good immortal down no matter how many bullets you put in them.