One of life’s biggest mysteries is death. There are very few circumstances where a person can pinpoint or control the date of their demise – even if they know the “why” behind their final days. Most of us live with varying degrees of existential dread that creeps up at inopportune moments to taunt us with morbid possibilities. Sometimes, it’s a fleeting feeling and other times it can consistently consume our thoughts. Wouldn’t it be easier if we just knew what day we will die? Amy Seimetz’s surreal thriller She Dies Tomorrow examines how this knowledge can both build and destroy a person.
In the film, Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil) lives alone with nothing but a record player, laptop, and wine to keep her company. She’s instantly an intriguing and melancholy presence wandering aimlessly with ominous classical music blaring in the background. Amy soon admits to her friend Jane (Jane Adams) that she will die tomorrow.
Like most friends, Jane tries to convince that there’s no way she could know this information. She believes Amy’s mental state and alcohol use may be the cause of suicidal thoughts but that’s not the case. Amy’s firm belief in her fixed, impending demise is a drop in murky water that causes a ripple effect among the characters in the film.
Each person becomes filled with the horrific thought that their lives will end the next day. Their convictions cause them to release inhibitions, examine their existence, make amends, and embrace the truth in a way that only a death sentence can inspire. She Dies Tomorrow‘s fear tool of choice isn’t jump scares, a raging virus, or a deadly antagonist – it’s simply the anxiety and crushing fear that something bad is coming your way. It’s an all-consuming and haunting yet freeing energy that implants in the mind and spreads like a fire.
The juxtaposition of irreverent conversations and surface level interactions alongside unsettling (and erratic) moments is both humorous and introspective. At one point, Jane shows up at her egotistical sister-in-law Susan’s (Katie Aselton) birthday gathering. Jane is swiftly succumbing to the idea of her demise while her sister-in-law engages in an inane conversation about dolphins.
Jane cuts through the chatter and says humans are the only animals who pretend to be what we are not. She brings up death and how it should be normalized to talk about it. Jane’s words are met with laughter and exasperation by most guests – especially Susan. Jane is met with Susan’s unfiltered wrath as she says she just wants to talk about dolphin sex instead of uncomfortable issues. But it’s too late because Jane’s repetition about her dying the next day has already shifted the atmosphere.
The plot continues to meander between intense psychological present moments and the past. Restless wandering and absurd (or poignant) diatribes replace the typical explosive action or intense terror of a horror/thriller. She Dies Tomorrow loses some steam during a few Amy-centric flashbacks. The scenes try to draw a connection between her past and how she has become patient zero for this contagious thought. But it doesn’t work as well as intended.
This film will make viewers think deeply about how they would react to this knowledge. Is it even real? Would it cause us to throw caution to the wind? Would we dismayed by how we have spent our precious time? How much living would we pack into the dwindling hours? Or, would the fear shift us into an immobile state?
If a viewer is looking for classic scares, violence, and predictability, then this isn’t the right ride for them. Instead, She Dies Tomorrow is commentary for what it means to be fulfilled, the power of our thoughts, human fragility, the transference of energy, and a philosophical debate wrapped up in a dark mind game where no one wins.
4 out of 5
Featured Image: EF Neon