The Movie Waffler New to Shudder - SHE DIES TOMORROW | The Movie Waffler

New to Shudder - SHE DIES TOMORROW

she dies tomorrow review
A young woman's belief that she only has a day left to live spreads like a contagion among those she encounters.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Amy Seimetz

Starring: Kate Lynn Sheil, Jane Adams, Kentucker Audley, Katie Aselton, Chris Messina, Michelle Rodriguez, Josh Lucas

she dies tomorrow poster

She Dies Tomorrow isn't about COVID-19. When actress turned writer/director Amy Seimetz began work on her second feature (financed with her pay-cheque from appearing in the Pet Sematary remake), she couldn't possibly have predicted the oncoming global pandemic. But if a film becomes what a viewer brings to it rather than what its creator intended, then for most audiences, She Dies Tomorrow will play as a deadpan allegory for our latest existential threat.

she dies tomorrow review

The contagion here begins with Amy (Kate Lynn Sheil), a young woman who slips back into alcoholism one night while alone in the spacious new house she's recently purchased. When her worried friend Jane (Jane Adams) pops by to check if she's okay, Amy starts babbling about how she's convinced she's going to die tomorrow, and how she wants to be made into a leather jacket once she expires. Jane puts such crazy talk down to drunkenness and leaves Amy to sleep it off.

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Once back home, Jane is suddenly overwhelmed by the same overbearing feeling that she too will perish tomorrow. She returns to Amy's house seeking an explanation for the condition that has seemingly spread between them, but Amy has headed off to spend her final night on Earth driving a dune buggy in the desert and revisiting the scene of a prior relationship that may be the root of her current malaise. Distraught, Jane visits her brother, Jason (Chris Messina), who is celebrating his boorish wife Susan's (Katie Aselton) birthday with a pair of guests (Tunde Adebimpe and Jennifer Kim). The group laugh off Jane's assertions regarding her imminent expiration, but soon after she leaves they too fall victim to the very same compulsion.

she dies tomorrow review

She Dies Tomorrow seems like a novel idea, but it has its roots in films like Stanley Kramer's On the Beach and Don McKellar's Last Night, in which characters resign themselves to imminent destruction. The difference here is that while previous films have featured a very concrete threat, the vessel of death is left ambiguous here. Nobody knows just how exactly they are going to die, yet are convinced that they have an appointment with the reaper in less than 24 hours.

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Set within a community of affluent artistic types, She Dies Tomorrow avoids the usual apocalyptic clichés of rioting in the streets as the threads of society come apart. The characters here have achieved all they set out to in life, and so mostly face their death with resignation, even nonchalance. Unlike the infected apartment block dwellers of Cronenberg's Shivers, who turn to violent sensualism, the infected here are overwhelmed with concerns of the mind rather than the flesh. One young man suggests "making out" upon learning of his upcoming demise, but the thoughts rushing through his head make him unable to enjoy the physical experience. We like to think that if diagnosed with a terminal condition, we would endeavour to make the most of our limited time, but most of us would likely be too mentally consumed to really commit to such a notion. We engage in activities not just for the momentary emotional rush, but for the enduring mental recollection. If we won't be around to remember a moment of joy, is that joy then redundant?

she dies tomorrow review

It's all too easy now to view She Dies Tomorrow through the lens of COVID-19, but when or if the virus becomes a distant memory it will play to more ongoing concerns of how we deal with anxiety. While Sheil's Amy is the main protagonist, the key figure here is Adams' Jane. When she arrives at her brother's party, Susan begins rolling her eyes. Even before succumbing to the contagion, Jane had rubbed Susan up the wrong way by possessing a philosophical, questioning attitude to life of the sort that the superficial Susan was dismissive of. Seimetz's film explores how those who ask questions about concepts greater than themselves are increasingly dismissed by those who would rather keep their head in the sand. In a way, the contagion here is one of enlightenment, allowing the infected a new, if brief lease of life, free of petty concerns. It's almost a cure for another unspoken contagion, our current plague of anti-intellectualism, which spreads through the mediums that govern our lives to infect those who resent knowledge and prefer to bask in ignorance. She Dies Tomorrow is a plea to listen to others' concerns, no matter how crazy they might sound, because you never know when they might become your own.

She Dies Tomorrow is on Shudder UK now.