What if you knew you were going to die tomorrow? How would you spend your final hours?
In She Dies Tomorrow, Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil) is certain that she is going to die tomorrow (cue title card). Amy is so sure of it that she would instead look at the price of an urn or researching ways to turn herself into a leather jacket than open Netflix. After Amy makes a call to her friend, Jane (Jane Adams) shows up to Amy’s house in the middle of the night to find her in the backyard in a sparkly dress, using a leaf blower while a fire burns just underneath her. Amy just doesn’t care what happens now, because she’s going to die tomorrow.
For much of its runtime, She Dies Tomorrow seems like the musings of someone who has given up on life with an unnatural certainty of an upcoming death to talk about depression and how it affects our motivations. Amy aimlessly wanders around her new house, returning from some sort of vacation gone wrong with her boyfriend (Kentucker Audley). When Jane arrives at Amy’s new house, she takes a motherly role, assuring Amy that tomorrow will come, she will be alive and needs some sleep. However, Jane goes home with the same sense of death hanging over her and wonders if Amy could be right.
This statement begins to spread like a virus, as Jane becomes the bummer of her sister-in-law’s (Katie Aselton) birthday party, telling her brother (Chris Messina) and the other guests (Tunde Adebimpe & Jennifer Kim) about how she will die tomorrow. Everyone that hears these words rolls this around in their minds. It’s one of those what-if situations that has endless permutations that forces the person to face their own mortality when they don’t want to. Unfortunately, this is becoming more of a thought more people are rolling around in their brains, as thousands of people have died due to COVID-19 complications and the stress of being alone has forced us to ask that question more frequently. However, that doesn’t mean that Seimetz’s exploration of this idea is compelling.
Although there are breathtaking moments throughout, Seimetz doesn’t give the film the ability to concretely portray what the characters realize about the notion of dying tomorrow that is particularly infectious. Instead, we are given brief glimpses of flashing neon lights and quick subliminal images. I will say one highlight of the film when it comes to this realization is towards the end of the film depicting Jane’s photographs of various liquids under a microscope and how it stitches the film together.
Unfortunately, there is no real sense of suspense to accompany the fear of death. The characters besides Amy and her boyfriend are given very little room to become characters we know or care about being infected. Instead, Seimetz is focused on what the origin point for the infectious ideation of dying tomorrow is. She Dies Tomorrow is more concerned with the concept than having a story that makes sense, hopping between its cast members who mainly speak in riddles about mortality and things we didn’t even know about. Seimetz is mostly known as an actor, and She Dies Tomorrow showcases some new actors and actresses that I haven’t seen, getting to display all the grief and turmoil that comes with confronting the fact that you are dying sooner than you thought.
She Dies Tomorrow continually ebbs and flows in its anxiety without ever building to any point of resolution epiphany, even towards the end when it seems like everyone and everything you see is convinced they’re going to die tomorrow. Some characters choose to make themselves numb, and others become even more attached to who they want to die with. Amy does things she always wanted to. Jane attempts to create her final masterpiece. A couple does something either cruel or merciful (depends on who you ask). Everybody just has a good vibe about dying tomorrow.
This tone makes for a less engaging film, and without any real plot to hold on to, the audience member is left to their own devices to interpret what actually happened in the film, what happens now, and what that means in their own life. Seimetz could be making a film about herself, our modern lives, or anything in between.
Honestly, it could be any of those things I mentioned or maybe something I didn’t pick up on during my viewing. Frustratingly, the film doesn’t seem concerned about answering or even exploring any of those possibilities.
In theaters now and is available on Friday, August 7th on VOD.