She Dies Tomorrow (2020) – Film Review

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“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. Amy Seimetz must have had that quote going through her head when writing and directing her latest film. For She Dies Tomorrow taps into the growing wave of paranoia that has gripped the world during Coronavirus.

After waking up convinced that she is going to die tomorrow, Amy’s carefully mended life begins to unravel. Following a visit from her initially pragmatic friend Jane, it becomes clear that Amy’s delusions of certain death have become contagious to those around her. Amy and her friends’ lives begin to spiral out of control in a tantalising descent into madness.

“What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? An idea. Resilient… highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it’s almost impossible to eradicate.”

That description by Leonardo DiCaprio’s Cobb in Inception perfectly encapsulates this potential silent killer.

It starts off innoucuously enough. A woman goes to check on a friend who is having a tough time and is told she thinks she will die tomorrow. The woman then becomes a carrier, infected with the same idea. She goes to a house party and superspreads the idea to others who then pass it on and so on and so on…

However there is no lockdown, no suppression of the virus. There is no third-act saviour running in with a vaccine. This is not Outbreak or even Contagion. This is not a typical Hollywood thriller about a virus. Instead Seimetz is holding a mirror up to the world and asking them what would they do or think about if they truly thought they were going to die tomorrow.

Rather than a piece of narrative fiction, it is a meditation on mortality. Some characters break down. Some lament wasting time on relationships that should have ended a long time ago. Others embrace it, looking to do the things they always wanted.

Performances across the board are deeply affecting with the actors able to deliver some much emotion without words. The decision to shoot many of them in devastating close up captures every nuance and flicker of emotion on their face. It breaks the fourth wall and connects the audience to them.

Through the cinematography by Jay Keitel and score by the Mondo Boys, it plays out like something you would experience during an ayahuasca ceremony. The stunning purples and pink hues. The quick tonal shifts between darkness and light, laughter and tears.

It will certainly not be to everyone’s taste. Just as the characters’ reactions vary, the individual viewing experience will differ dependant on how each person views the notion of death. Some will let it wash over them while for some it will be the equivalent of a bad trip. One wonders how Harry Burns would see this film!

The main character may worry that She Dies Tomorrow but audiences shouldn’t wait till tomorrow to see this waking nightmare. Just remember however that it’s only a movie… it’s only a movie…

Film Rating: ★★★☆☆

She Dies Tomorrow is in cinemas and available to stream with Curzon Home Cinema from Friday 28 August.

Director: Amy Semietz
Stars: Kate Lyn Shiel, Jane Adams, Chris Messina, Michelle Rodriguez, Josh Lucas
Runtime: 86 minutes
Country: USA

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