In Amy Seimetz’s tranfixing She Dies Tomorrow, anxiety and self-revelation are catching. With a foreboding tone that dips fingers into (and unsteadies) several genre waters, the film explores personal demons with an eye towards existentialist horror, the most remote science fiction, and sometimes gaspingly bleak humor. Seimetz takes the virus film, or ghost film, and places the horror in the mind of her characters, passing on their possibily contagious or hereditary axieties as they come in contact with one another throughout various unfeeling Californian fortresses of isolation. Each of her several locations are a figurative island, but more importantly, so are her characters.
The epoynmous she is Amy, an unwell woman latched at home to her phone and Mozart, played by Kate Plays Christine‘s unsettlingly composed Kate Lyn Sheil. She awakes in a sparse new home with the certainty that she will die the next day, terrifying both for her irrationality and conviction. After a short visit from her sister Jane (Jane Adams), Amy’s death fear begins to spread among Amy’s outer circle, infilitrating the peaceful existence of her network. With an ensemble featuring Chris Messina, Tunde Adebimpe, and Michelle Rodriguez, She Dies Tomorrow becomes a portrait of modern self-awareness in dark times.
Again Sheil is deeply unnerving at the center of a film painting broadly outside the lines of traditional narratives, and once again to haunting effect. Like Kate Plays Christine, this film calls for another deep rendering of dark pathos, its realities obscured to us the viewer but told with specificity in Sheil’s delivery. Though less metatextual, here she invites us even further into an unknown, making us understand Amy’s journey for its emotional journey, without its full circumstantial details. Given the performance is at play with an unseen spectre of death and a coming future, that makes for quite a terrifying performance indeed.
But the success of the film’s queasy, perpetual low-hum terror belongs to Seimetz for her unique vision and focused execution. Though a touch too unimposing, the film is nimble and expedient with its simple concept, allowing grander ideas to take root in its simple, pristine package. Its steadiest, most rewarding element is its undercurrent of emotional honesty throughout, raising the stakes of its horror and humor interaction with an ease for rival genre concepts to envy. At its core, She Dies Tomorrow is a very intimate psychological sit, more refreshing for innovation and insight than for impact.
Seimetz is playing with ideas of literal and figurative deaths, the parts, or truths, of ourselves that we cling to as if it were our physical being. Whether out of status quo or survival, Seimetz paints the instinct as one we recognize in eachother but seldom relate specifically. Locked in their own heads and experience like how Seimetz largely locks them in their homes, these characters can’t understand one another’s experience. And that’s why they find eachother compromised, or infuriating, or damaged; it’s a horror film about what we’re afraid to confront in eachother and ourselves.In the end, the writer/director aims towards something like resurrection, resulting in a moving ending that emotionally recontextualizes the entire experience.