Written by: Amy Seimetz
Starring: Kate Lyn Sheil, Jane Adams, Kentucker Audley, Katie Aselton, Chris Messina
At some point, no matter the health precautions and incisive care, every human being will eventually die. The circle of unavoidable life but reckoning with our mortality does not come across people’s minds every single day. It would make for a miserable existence and certainly cause others extreme discomfort, which occurs in the sensory overloading and deeply hypnotic She Dies Tomorrow. A story that begins with confusion and follows through to become a completely harrowing experience.
After recently purchasing a house, Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil) interacts with her friend Jane (Jane Adams) and begins to express the feeling that she will die tomorrow. With no explanation as to why or how, this feeling spreads to all others around her.
Beginning with what appears to be a joke, the despair in the eyes of Amy in this film reaches a level of dread I could not expect. She has seemingly made a recent jump in her life in achieving a dream many would love to reach in owning a home. Additionally, she did it on her own which serves as its own form of accomplishment. However, this feeling of dread sneaks up and completely consumes her thoughts and when conversing with Jane, it seemingly becomes the only thing she can discuss. Certainly, a distressing conversation for Jane, as it would be strange to hear anyone insist they were going to die soon. Amy certainly does not have a terminal illness she has been battling or other circumstances that would make someone fear for their life. With it being contained to Amy, it feels like a singular experience because of the filmmaking style until it spreads to Jane and then goes haywire.
The style utilized by Amy Seimetz focuses directly on the face as it shows the characters experience this overwhelming dread with all of the impact it delivers. This explicitly gets utilized in the moments with the flashing lights. It does not receive a thorough explanation as to what it represents but it can be pieced together as it occurs to the other characters. The use of these lights made it hard to keep my eyes on the screen and serves the purpose of those sequences. I find it difficult to believe anyone can fully look upon those scenes without ever having to look away from the intensity. It completely captures this unrelenting feeling of existential dread that has never crossed the minds of the characters and now will never cease.
Seimetz dazzles with this method because the narrative is pretty straightforward but it becomes experiential in feeling for these characters. No prescription or therapy exists to cure them of this as it barely has any explanation attached to it. While those stunning visual sequences do their part of the storytelling, Seimietz also excels in the sequences of the characters explaining this feeling of imminent death occurring. Speaking about death typically falls in the bucket of topics not to speak about with others but when this idea consumes a character’s ever-present thought, the spread becomes inevitable. The awkwardness of the initial conversations cause this cringe-inducing feeling where you can barely watch, as speaking on this subject really pushes the buttons of social etiquette.
She Dies Tomorrow contains some splendid performances by its cast but primarily Kate Lyn Sheil as Amy and Jane Adams as Jane. They receive the most screen time and certainly do not squander it. Lyn Sheil, in particular, has the camera linger on her face with her essentially reacting to what she sees and feels. The existential horror she experiences comes through in a harrowing manner because of her work in this role. A funnel for pain to flow through and one where the audience can only sit back and try to comprehend.
As a narrative, She Dies Tomorrow does not offer character arcs or a normal three-act structure. Instead, it seeks to become its own experience and it certainly succeeds in this effort. This trip down anxiety lane displays a suffocating vacuum life can establish for people along with the exasperating feeling it causes as a result. It leaves the audience as people just trying to be there for these characters as they have these searing emotions pass through them.