She Dies Tomorrow deals with topics that are relevant in the best of times. The thriller was supposed to have its world premiere at SXSW. When the festival ended up being cancelled due to the coronavirus, director Amy Seimetz’s film became even more topical. Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil) is struggling with a breakup and alcoholism. She is also convinced she is going to die tomorrow. Is this a coping mechanism for everything Amy is going through or are her fears legitimate?
The film may deal with some heavy issues, but it is also very beautiful. The use of shadows and lights adds to the atmosphere of the story. Much of the time is spent in dimly lit settings. Occasional flashes of light will flash as if to signify when the characters have had a revelation. (As it turns out, these lights have a much more sinister meaning.)
She Dies Tomorrow does a great job of building its tone. The film is filled with the obvious tension. Seimetz uses long quiet scenes and intimate moments to keep the audience engaged. There is the inescapable question of what tomorrow will bring. But there is also the constant concern of what will happen next. It is impossible to look away from the movie.
It is also interesting to see how people react differently to their apparent impending deaths. Naturally, there is much sadness and despair. Other characters are very nonchalant and even joke about what is happening. There are no doom and gloom monologues or call to action. The one common thread is everyone has come to accept what is about to happen.
The cast does a magnificent job. Kate Lyn Sheil is amazing as Amy. The role requires a wide range of emotions, but what the audience sees most are fear, sadness, and acceptance. Sheil effortlessly slides between the three. Jane Adams also stands out in a darkly comedic part. After speaking with Amy, she roams the city and has a number of interactions that are as funny as they are depressing.
The story itself keeps moving forward at a nice pace. At its core, She Dies Tomorrow is about characters. There are many scenes spent in conversation and quiet thought. It is during these scenes that the central theme of the movie fully materializes. Initially, She Dies Tomorrow seems like it is just going to be about Amy. She is certainly a major character, but the story is about more than just her. It is even goes beyond her friends. The plot is really about how people face the mortality of life and how that is accepted. The movie is about us.
Everyone knows they have a finite time in this world. The trick is learning how to not think about it long enough to make it through each day. She Dies Tomorrow is a poignant story about knowing when that end has arrived. It tackles death, acceptance, and trying to move on. It also dabbles in the worst type of fear – the fear of knowing what should be left unknown.