She Dies Tomorrow: Get It Over With, by David Bax
It may only be Amy Seimetz’s second feature directorial effort but she’s been around long enough–producing, writing and acting in great movies–that she’s able to gather an all-star cast of cool kids for her thrillingly metaphysical, depressingly hilarious She Dies Tomorrow. The unassailable Kate Lyn Sheil is at the forefront of an ensemble that also features Jane Adams, Katie Aselton, Chris Messina, Kentucker Audley and Tunde Adebimpe as well as cameos by a horror director and a couple of bigger stars. But the real highlight is Seimetz’s singular vision of alluring obliteration.
Sheil is Amy, a petit bourgeois Angeleno who has, in very short succession, bought a new house and fallen off the wagon. When her worried friend, Jane (Adams), comes to check on her, she finds Amy drunk on multiple bottles of wine and insisting that she knows she’s going to die the next day. Just when we start to think She Dies Tomorrow is an exploration of upper middle class liberal narcissists–the hipsters who now have money but are still too self-righteous to be embarrassed about it–Jane is suddenly overcome with the same fatalistic conviction. She too will perish after the sun comes up. Then Jane tells two friends about it and they tell two friends and so on and so on and so on.
In addition to her arthouse bona fides, Seimetz has roots in the alt-comedy world. In She Dies Tomorrow, she proves she can still flex those muscles. As despairing a tale as this is, it’s often absurdly funny. After all, laughter is as rational a response to someone telling you they know exactly when they’re going to die as any other. Or, like the guy Amy tells at the dune buggy rental place, you could just let out an unending guttural moan.
Of course, plenty has been written about the similarities between comedy and horror, as film genres, in their ability to produce involuntary reactions (like, again, the dune buggy guy). Whether She Dies Tomorrow qualifies as horror is debatable but Seimetz does know how to create unsettling images. The way a sudden change in the color and quality of light can completely alter a person’s face, for instance, is a practical effect she employs with spectacularly creepy results.
In addition to the saturated lighting–diffuse, shimmery pools of neon liquid that warp and bounce in the dark of night–Seimetz makes use of swells of Mozart that build to jarring smash cuts to create a disarming but beguiling tone. The whole, weird experience is like a siren song.
That’s not to say the characters accept their fate (whether it’s real or not) eagerly. Nor are they terrified or resigned or at peace or any one thing. She Dies Tomorrow looks at the looming death of each and every one of us as if it’s deciding to take us off of life support. It sucks and you wish it didn’t have to happen but it does. And all the time in the world isn’t going to make you any more okay with it. So look on the bright side. If you can find it.