She Never Died (2019) tells the tale of a cannibal woman who eats bad men. An unlikely feminist anti-hero that means much more than the creators intended. Gabe talks about the character's power and the significance of casting a black woman in the role. Kat discusses the history of medical violence against black women in America.
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She Never Died (2019) Director/Writer: Audrey Cummings / Jason Krawczyk
Summary by IMDB: When a girl goes missing, a woman with a mysterious past tracks down the people responsible.
She Never Died: The Black Anti-Heroine We Need
by Gabe Castro
RED: Quotes, someone else's words.
She Never Died tells the tale of a cannibal woman who eats bad men. This film is funny and gruesome, two of my favorite things in horror. I found in this film what I was looking for in the feminist vampire revenge flick, Bit. Where that filmed pulled it’s punches, this one punched harder. Although a sequel to Henry Rollins’ He Never Died, I never felt I was missing pieces of the story from having not seen it. Lacey’s story is its own. We follow Lacey, played by Olunike Adeliyi, the deadpan antihero who accidentally becomes a feminist icon. Lacey is cursed, she needs to eat bone marrow to survive and she strategically chooses bad men as her victims to survive.
Lacey is a character who on the surface appears to be driven by instinct alone. She comes across as uncaring, emotionless, and at times, inhuman. However, when looking closely at her actions you find that beneath this hardened, animalistic facade is a woman who understands the fight between good and evil. She has been around long enough to be jaded by humanity, tired of the performance of good and disgusted by the power of evil. In He Never Died, it’s made clear he’s been around since old testament times which has you questioning how long Lacey has been around. With this, it becomes apparent just how over the world she is.
Our vigilante catches the eye of hardened detective Godfrey who surprisingly knows what she is, to an extent. Despite knowing she is a killer who eats people and clearly isn’t kept up late at night over it, he enlists her to help bring an end to a human trafficking ring. In her first “mission” to find those responsible, she ends up saving spunky sex worker, Suzzie. The interactions between the two are charming and bring humor to an otherwise dark film. Suzzie immediately pegs Lacey as the feminist zombie?? heroine the world needs. Lacey immediately lets Suzzie know she doesn’t like her. But underneath the tough, hardened exterior we see the hero who can’t help but fight for what is right. She sees something in Suzzie’s persistence: despite her hard and troubled life she still believes in the potential for good to prevail. Maybe Lacey can too.
Adeliyi gives a phenomenal performance. We don’t have a cliched horror final girl but rather a grizzled hero in Lacey. She is solemn and studious. Her blunt responses give comedic relief to otherwise dark scenes. And as Kat will discuss in her section, it is incredibly important that Lacey is a dark-skinned black woman who is fighting this. She is the protagonist, not the support for the quirky Suzzie. She even fights against the human trafficking leader who is a white woman. Whether it was Audrey Cummings intent in choosing Adeliyi for the role to transform it into something this powerful and opinionated, it has certainly become that. Just as George A. Romero didn’t fully understand the impact of casting Duane Jones in his film would have in fundamentally changing the messaging, Cummings too has a film that represents more than just femme power.
Spoilers Ahead: In the very end, we get a glimpse into who Lacey is and just how long she’s been wandering the earth. In He Never Died, it is revealed that he is Cain, cursed after killing his brother. This is a punishment and for her, this is also “deserving of punishment”. She is called Lilith. In Judeo-Christian lore, Lilith is a demonic being who was Adam’s first wife. Her existence stems from the line in Genesis in which God makes man and woman, then later he makes Eve. Many questioned who then was the first woman made equal to Adam and not made of him. She was angered by the request by Adam to be subservient to him, despite being equal, so she fled and copulated with demons. I have always been fascinated by Lilith. She is an unlikely feminist icon and one of the first strong women to be demonized and have her story rewritten or erased to better push the narrative of well-behaved women. The decision to name Lacey as Lilith only further strengthens her identity as a feminist icon. Even now, she is a “monster” who kills bad men.
Lacey's Pain in She Never Dies: Medical Violence Against Black Women
by Kat Kushin
RED: Quotes, someone else's words.
Trigger Warning: Racism, Medical violence, Systemic oppression
So I did some reading and I’ll be real that I was pretty surprised by the coverage on this film. I felt like this film was saying a lot, things that seemed really obvious to me with my media analysis glasses on, and I feel like the lens that people reviewed this film with was different than mine. They weren’t saying anything new, and were mostly like wow cool, this lady eats the bad guys, this is a cool metaphor for eating the rich, good for her. Which I’ll give it that, it did do that too but I feel like an opportunity to talk about things that may be uncomfortable for some people was missed. To start off positive, since we already spoiled it, you know that the main character, Lacey, is implied to be Lilith. I thought this was really cool, specifically because it’s basically a fact that Lilith, i.e. the first WHOLE woman was a Black woman, and it was dope to see that actually represented on screen with such a powerful character.