The 400-Word Review: She Dies Tomorrow
By Sean Collier
August 7, 2020
A warning: This is one of those movies where you’re not getting an explanation.
To varying degrees, that’s a choice that can bother people; a great many moviegoers prefer to Google “[Name of Movie] ending explained” before the credits end. Ambiguity is a powerful, and risky, artistic choice. Rarely is it employed so totally than it is in “She Dies Tomorrow,” a low-key thriller that neglects to even let the audience know how things turn out.
I’m not complaining. “She Dies Tomorrow,” which was written and directed by Amy Seimetz, isn’t about the outcome of its dread-soaked premise; it’s about how its convincing, realistic characters respond to the existential certainty that they are about to die.
Amy (Kate Lyn Shell) is a barely-composed millennial, trying to hang on to sobriety and a scrap of happiness. She’s just taken a road trip with Craig (Kentucker Audley); it was going well until he was suddenly overcome with the absolute certainty that he would die in two days.
This isn’t a curse in the tradition of “The Ring.” Depicted only by colorful lights washing over the characters’ faces, it is what you might call a memetic affliction; Craig, and Amy in turn, know they’re going to suddenly perish as a matter of absolute fact.
The road trip is a flashback; most of “She Dies Tomorrow” occurs with 24 hours to go, as Amy wanders her house and drifts between activities meant to provide direction for her final hours. The curse — or madness, or whatever it is — spreads virally; soon, her friend Jane (Jane Adams) catches it and swiftly spreads it to her own brother (Chris Messina) and sister-in-law (Katie Aselton).
It would be easy to connect this viral dose of potentially fatal dread to current events — especially in the film’s final act, where it becomes clear that the affliction has come to dominate everyday life. I think that’s too easy an analysis of “She Dies Tomorrow,” though. The film isn’t about the disease; it’s about how people respond to the incontrovertible certainty that they’re about to die.
“She Dies Tomorrow” drifts between depictions of the muted, powerful reactions its characters have to creeping doom. In that, it’s slow and poignant; yes, many viewers will find it unsatisfying. But with a careful viewing, it’s hypnotic, scary and illuminating. This isn’t a movie for everyone, but it will find a passionate audience.
My Rating: 8/10
“She Dies Tomorrow” is available via digital on-demand services.