If writer-director Amy Seimetz’s indie thriller She Dies Tomorrow were a song rather than a movie, it would be the anthem for our current age of anxiety, an artfully atonal ode to the eternal question, Am I imagining this, or is it really happening? Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil) is settling into the house she’s just bought when she suffers what appears to be a panic attack. She calls a close friend, Jane (Jane Adams), begging her to come over. Her voice is so weak, she can barely make herself heard, though it’s also unclear whether she’s speaking at all—it’s as if all communication has broken down cosmically as well as digitally.
When Jane shows up, Amy outlines the cause of her anguish: she’s convinced she’s going to die the next day. Jane reassures her that this cannot possibly be true—only to return home and find herself seized by the certainty that she too is destined to die on the morrow. Jane confesses her anxiety to others (her brother, Chris Messina; a doctor, Josh Lucas), who try to calm her, until panic seizes them as well. It appears that Amy is an unwitting superspreader, a Jenny Appleseed sowing debilitating fears of mortality from one person to the next.
If all of that sounds vaguely comical and unsettling, that’s the point: the movie’s oblique, jittery rhythms are designed to make us feel a little crazy too, before we come to our senses and laugh at ourselves. Seimetz has been working in film and television for years as an actor, writer, director and producer; she has appeared in films like Pet Sematary, and she directed the 2012 thriller Sun Don’t Shine. She’ll try her hand, fearlessly, at anything. Perched at the restless midpoint of psychological and super-natural horror, She Dies Tomorrow is dotted with experimental flourishes: the screen is occasionally smeared with what looks like blood, though it might be an ecto-plasmic communiqué from another world. And there’s no tidy resolution—She Dies Tomorrow leaves a trail of jagged question marks in its wake.
But that, too, appears to be part of its design. In all likelihood, most of us will wake up tomorrow and manage to survive the day. But Seimetz’s movie plants that one unruly seed of doubt: you just never know.
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