Written by: Hannah Tran | August 5th, 2020
She Dies Tomorrow (Amy Seimetz, 2020) 3 out of 4 stars.
Death may await us all, but in Amy Seimetz’s latest film, She Dies Tomorrow, Seimetz explores the dread of those who knowingly await death. Revolving around a woman also named Amy, who comes to the realization that she will die the following day, and her friend Jane, who is later struck with the same realization as it becomes increasingly clear that this oncoming certainty of death is contagious, She Dies Tomorrow follows these women’s separate final hours as they try to cope with this new revelation. Balancing terror with a dark sense of comedy, Seimetz’s meditation on death proves to be a complex rumination on the feelings of anxiety, depression and dysphoria that populate our everyday lives.
While at first She Dies Tomorrow may feel somewhat directionless, the first portion of this film seeming to be but a brief look into a woman’s dismal day, the unique rhythm of the film allows for the various scenes to expertly capture different levels of anxiety and, in turn, submission to those anxieties. It is the type of film perfectly satisfied to take its time, and this only helps its more tense scenes feel even more gripping. It does, however, lack a certain sense of overarching urgency that should come naturally to a story like this, and this, unfortunately, makes the film feel somewhat uneven and certain sequences feel astronomically more compelling than others.
Despite the fact that there are essentially two leads, and that Seimetz therefore holds back in terms of fully getting to know either of them, the characters at the center of She Dies Tomorrow are almost instantly recognizable to anyone who has ever felt anxious, apathetic, or lonely. And what makes the performances so interesting is that they exhibit a very specific understanding that often these emotions can be experienced as one and the same. Both Kate Lyn Sheil, who previously worked with Seimetz in her 2012 film Sun Don’t Shine, as Amy, and Jane Adams (Always Shine), as Jane, are more than capable of jumping between and balancing this myriad of complicated personal emotions that they endure due to mortal anxieties that feel so crushingly modern despite being ultimately timeless.
And the unseen, but all-consuming presentation of their realization that they will indeed die tomorrow, in the form of flashing lights and noises that sound as if they must be memories of some sort, proves to be the defining visual moment of the film, perfectly setting the atmosphere for its specific brand of horror. The unique imagery and impressive sound design add to the mystique of the idea, the terror lying in the chaotic randomness of its appearance and the apparent, yet unknown personal connection it has to the recipient of its message. With one of the most intriguing ideas of the year, She Dies Tomorrow is a funny, sad, and overwhelmingly original perspective on fears of mortality and how they relate to the excesses of modernity. Its world is one that feels entirely new, and yet very few worlds feel this relevant to the one we’re currently living in.