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SHE NEVER DIED: 3 ½ STARS. “could become a midnight madness favorite.”  

“She Never Died,” a feminist riff on the 2015 horror-comedy “He Never Died,” and new on VOD this week, stars Oluniké Adeliyi as Lacey, an indestructible, immortal killing machine whose humanity makes her vulnerable.

Lacey lives on the streets, killing people she figures no one will miss, ie criminals. But she’s not trying to clean up the streets. Far from it. She hunts and kills the baddies for food. She gouges out eyes as entrees, and is always careful to remove the fingers for later. “They fit in my pocket,” she says. “And I need the bone marrow.”

When grizzled Detective Godfrey (Peter MacNeill) gets wind of her abilities—surviving a gunshot to the head—he makes an offer. If she’ll agree to rid the world of the evil brother and sister team of human traffickers (Noah Dalton Danby and Michelle Nolden) he’ll find her a decent place to hang her hat.

She agrees, and with the help of Suzzie (Kiana Madeira), a young streetwise woman rescued from a life of being sold by some very bad men, carnage ensues.

Canadian director Audrey Cummings has made a snazzy horror film with equal parts gore and gags. It’s not a horror comedy so to speak, but thanks to some clever scripting it’s a ton of fun with humor emerging organically out of the unusual situation. Combine that with the film’s brisk pacing and you have a movie that could become a midnight madness favorite.

“She Never Died” relies on some old school special effects to deliver the bloody stuff, but lo fi though they may be, they pack a punch.

The blood and guts are fine, but the movie’s strong point is Adeliyi‘s work as Lacey. Even though she only has a handful of lines the film passes the Bechdel test (the film features women who talk to each other about something other than a man) and proves that Adeliyi doesn’t need pages of dialogue to create a compelling character. When she isn’t in motion, killing the villains, Lacey’s scenes with Suzzie give the film subtext about surviving trauma and the power of community that deepen the story and the characters. Come for the bloodshed, stay for the subtext.

Despite its rather abrupt ending—perhaps it’s meant to whet the appetite for a sequel, but it feels incomplete—“She Never Died” distinguished itself as a good and gory character study with a style and feel all its own.

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