SHE DIES TOMORROW
(director/writer: Amy Seimrtz; cinematographer: Jay Keitel; editor: Kate Brokow; music: Mondo Boys; cast: Kate Lyn Sheil (Amy), Jane Adams (Jane), Chris Messina (Jason), Katie Aselton (Susan), Kentucker Audley (Craig), Tunde Adebimpe (Brian), Jennifer Kim (Tilly), Josh Lucas (Doctor), Michelle Rodriguez (Sky), Olivia Taylor Dudley (Erin), Adam Wingard (Dune Buggy Man), Jim Pennington (leather jacket shop owner); Runtime: 84; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Amy Seimetz, David Lawson, Jr., Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson; Neon; 2020)
“In an uncanny way, this horror story predicts the outcome and spread of the current corona virus.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Amy Seimrtz (“Sun Don’t Shine”) is the actress-turned-writer-director of this bizarre and disturbing psychedelic angst-driven psychodrama over an existential death or, if you will, the heroine in dread over her panic attacks. Seimrtz funded the micro-budgeted indie with her acting paycheck from the 2019 remake of Pet Sematary.
When Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil), a substitute for the filmmaker, awakens in her new house, the moving boxes are still unpacked. Amy sips some wine and plays over and over the “Lacrimosa” movement from Mozart’s Requiem, tries ordering a leather jacket (wanting to be reborn in one), calls about urns and convinces herself that she will die tomorrow. Her concerned photographer friend Jane (Jane Adams) checks on her with a late evening visit while dressed in her pajamas and finds her dressed in an evening gown standing in her backyard and blowing the fall leaves with a leaf blower. When Amy tells Jane what’s disturbing her, the friend thinks she’s paranoid and has relapsed from her former drinking problem and drug addiction, or is still not over her ugly breakup with her boyfriend Craig (Kentucker Audley).
Existential dread that may come true as something real is the film’s theme. It’s here comparable to a virus that may at first be denied but easily spreads in crowds. Those who encounter Amy might become similarly convinced of their imminent death after only a brief exposure to the carrier of that sick message.
Amy’s fear of death has been passed onto the unemployed Jane. She leaves Amy’s place still in her pajamas and bloody from a stomach wound, to attend the birthday party of Susan (Katie Aselton), the bitchy wife of her successful brother Jason (Chris Messina). Jane warns the party-goers Jason, Susan, and their friends Brian (Tunde Adebimpe) and Tilly (Jennifer Kim) of what’s in store for them. The friends take it as a joke until they don’t, as they later become depressed and fear dying. Others at the party, like the stoned gay couple (Michelle Rodriguez, Olivia Taylor Dudley), instantly accept the doom and roll over with Jane in the swimming pool–turning it bloody red.
Jane will see a doctor (Josh Lucas) in the emergency room and spreads the gloom to him. He recommends that she see a psychiatrist. After the visit to the doctor, he develops the same anxiety symptoms as Jane.
In an uncanny way, this horror story predicts the outcome and spread of the current corona virus.
Another film theme is an unwillingness to face a truth that does not fit your agenda.
She Dies Tomorrow is not a conventional horror film, but is an intimate and philosophical one about a society overcome with gloom and doom. The helpless feeling is that there’s no way of stopping the bugs tragic spread, except by completely avoiding human contact–which is not humanly possible.
This experimental film is well crafted, has an outstanding performance by Kate Lyn Sheil, is lyrical and makes do without its simple tale getting resolved.
It was to premiere at SXSW in March, but the festival canceled the event. It has instead opened at drive-ins — and will be on VOD starting August 7th.
REVIEWED ON 8/7/2020 GRADE: B