Truth be told, the first time I watched She Dies Tomorrow, I felt utterly devastated afterward, but I felt lost in my thoughts about the film. A second viewing of She Dies Tomorrow really put all the puzzle pieces in place for me, though, and I think that, upon review, writer/director Amy Seimetz (who many genre fans will know from her performances in movies like You’re Next, The Sacrament, and Alien: Covenant, to name a few) has crafted a beautifully told and bold cinematic rumination on mortality that lingers in your psyche for some time. The imagery is unforgettable, the performances across the board are top-notch, and while She Dies Tomorrow isn’t a film that I’d necessarily categorize as horror, the material is often haunting and alarming all the same.
She Dies Tomorrow first introduces us to Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil), a woman transfixed on something just outside of our viewpoint, but the pained look of her visage tells us everything we need to know in those opening moments. Amy is slowly unraveling, although it’s not entirely clear just what’s behind her sometimes frantic undoing. But she tells her friend Jane (Jane Adams) on an ominous phone call that she’s going to die tomorrow, which only causes Jane to panic, and from there, Sheil’s character cuts off communication with her only tether to this reality.
Something then causes Jane to leave in a hurry and she ends up crashing her sister-in-law Susan’s (Katie Aselton) birthday celebration in her pajamas, and Jane’s brother Jason (Chris Messina) does his best to quell his sister’s nerves, as Jane now seems to be suffering from the same paranoia that we saw Amy contending with earlier in the film. From there, Jane infects Jason, Susan, and their guests, and we watch as they all confront their own mortalities, and some other ugly truths that had been tucked away deep within their own psyches as well.
Perfectly capturing the essence of impending doom lurking around every corner, for She Dies Tomorrow Seimetz dismisses traditional storytelling devices and utilizes a much more experimental approach to the film’s thematic elements (much like she did with Sun Don’t Shine as well), and for those who favor an experience over a well-structured narrative, you’re undoubtedly going to love every melancholic moment of She Dies Tomorrow.
Seimetz elegantly explores the insidiously contagious nature of fear and how we all confront the very concept of our own death in a manner that’s very personal and very singular in nature, and yet, that anxiety is a universal experience that we all share in some way. Seimetz does a brilliant job of capturing that duality here and the results are truly memorable. The theme of isolation is also pervasive through She Dies Tomorrow, and considering most of us have been tucked away in our homes since March, that aspect of the film really resonated with me, too.
She Dies Tomorrow soars with an absolute top-notch cast that feels wholly dialed into the subject matter, and the results are a handful of breathtaking and heartbreaking performances that will be hard for most viewers to shake off long after the credits have rolled. With She Dies Tomorrow, Seimetz has constructed a gorgeously effective piece of avant-garde filmmaking unlike anything else that has come along in 2020, proving that’s she is just as much of a force to be reckoned with behind the camera, as she is in front of it.
Movie Score: 4.5/5