It’s an odd time to be releasing movies. Not only are movie theaters closed, all but cutting off the communal viewing experience, but every movie released is being seen through a different light. A movie that was finished six months ago could now be seen completely differently in the wake of the first global pandemic in the social media age. Most movies, I would posit, are unlucky to have released during this monumental societal shift period. She Dies Tomorrow is one of the lucky few to have its themes fall right in line with our new world.
She Dies Tomorrow
Director: Amy Seimetz
Release Date: July 31, 2020 (Drive-In Theaters), August 7, 2020 (VOD)
The premise of She Dies Tomorrow is very simple, in fact, it’s in the title. Amy (Katie Lyn Sheil) is convinced she will die tomorrow. She’s not sick or lying in a hospital bed but she has convinced herself that tomorrow is her last day on earth. In her final hours, she doesn’t want to be alone so she calls her friend Jane (Jane Adams), who stays for a bit then leaves because she doesn’t want to watch her friend relapse into alcoholism. Upon leaving, Jane herself now fears that she will die tomorrow as well. What follows is an exploration of death and dying, and how an idea can spread like a virus.
As the impending death disease spreads through all those that interact with Amy and Jane, we begin to see characters shed their societal skin and live as they truly desire. As I watched the characters come to terms with their perceived impending mortality, I wasn’t concerned with whether or not they were actually going to die, but rather what it would mean if I found myself in the same situation.
This is where She Dies Tomorrow got lucky in its release during the Covid-19 pandemic. Before the pandemic, it would have been a struggle to get a majority of people into a mortal mindset. But with the threat of death facing us each day, and the characters spreading their fear of dying like a virus, the movie has almost become a mirror with which we can see our own world.
The mirror is put to full effect as despite being an only 84-minute movie, it moves rather slowly. Not to say that you are going to be looking at your phone wondering when it will be over, but more so the languid pace allows you to really sink down in an introspective mood as you identify with characters and wonder how you’d react in the same position.
It also helps that visually the movie is stunning to behold. Most of the movie takes place in the dark of night with contrasting lighting used wonderfully. The American Southwest is illuminated in vibrant hues that highlight the succulents and deepen the shadows while also reinforcing the surreal elements present in the world.
Pulling us back into the human element is the cast. Katie Lyn Sheil is wonderful as the titular Amy. Her obsession with death and what was once living feels all too real. I would be remiss to not single out Katie Aselton’s performance as Susan, which fills the role of an absent villain by being the antithesis to Jane. I’ve not yet seen Legion so to see Aselton’s turn in a dramatic role was a delightful surprise. Some of the other supporting cast feels a little deadpan for an existential horror but it’s nothing that ruins the mood or upsets the apple cart.
She Dies Tomorrow might not be for everyone. If you’re looking for action or high energy horror, look elsewhere. But if you’re looking for a slow burn trip inside your own mind then it might be just what you’re looking for.