How much can someone take before they snap? She Never Died (2019), directed by the award-winning Audrey Cummings and written by Jason Krawczyk, is a film that has many layers of themes that require some reflection. Here at Nevermore Horror, we often mention how horror is a metaphorical playground for our real fears in society. Even though She Never Died is somehow billed as a comedy (just like its predecessor He Never Died (2015) there are a lot of serious social issues to unpack that it didn’t come across as funny.
MILD SPOILERS AHEAD!
She Never Died is about a drifter named Lacey, played by Olunike Adeliyi, who wanders the street looking for food in the form of human flesh. This isn’t just some vampire killing indiscriminate civilians, she is looking to feast on the worst of humanity. When she begins to dine on some powerfully connected people, they try to harness her power for their financial gain.
If someone passively watches this film, they will see a bunch of gore, good triumphing over evil, and some allusion to Christian mythology and the Apocalypse. However, if you see the film as a metaphor, what you will get is a history lesson about being a woman of color in North America and a stark warning to the white patriarchy.
Lacey is a black woman who, despite being immortal, lives in the streets as a homeless person. In every other movie out there about immortal beings, vampires or highlanders or Lo Pans, being immortal is the way to accumulate massive wealth and live in a mansion with museums’ worth of priceless artifacts. Why doesn’t Lacey have these things?
Lacey is a person who has lived through punishing events in her life and, despite the adversity, comes back stronger than before. Instead of seeing this immense inner strength as something to be revered or admired, the white power structure in the film, which is symbolized by sleazy human traffickers and torturers, view Lacey as something to exploit. They drape her in chains and put her up for auction!
Lacey is referred to as “it” a little too often in the movie (too often= more than zero times). Throughout the film, she is depicted as some feral hyper-masculine beast. This is something that is talked about heavily in Eldridge Cleaver’s book, Soul on Ice, which tells how the image of the black woman has been twisted in our society since slavery times so that traditional definitions of beauty and femininity would not apply. The boss villain in the film is a woman who constantly wears white and gets a little too friendly with her own brother. Another woman in the film, Suzzie, played by Kiana Madeira, depicts the trope of the strong-willed victim of sex slavery who inexplicably is not suffering from extreme PTSD despite her trauma. I don’t believe these character depictions are due to racist attitudes in the director, rather as symbols of warning to the audience. There is symbology in Lacey’s actions as well. At the beginning of the movie, it is shown that Lacey needs to consume her male victims’ fingers which are their instruments to grab, steal, assault, and shame women every day.
So, what are the writers and directors getting at? I think the main point is summed up in the movie’s ending and Lacey’s real name, which I won’t spoil. You will just have to watch and find out for yourself. However, if history can be our guide on this one, whenever women are exploited or marginalized, there is going to be a lot of blood and broken bones.
Born and raised in San Diego California, I grew up loving the action horror and sci-fi genres. The first R rated film I saw was Predator back when I was 8 years old. Aliens blew me away as a youngster and I made a M41-A pulse rifle out of paper towel rolls and rubber bands. I ran around for hours avoiding face huggers and blasting xenomorphs in my back yard and I am bringing that big imagination to Nevermore Horror.