Truth and Movies

She Dies Tomorrow

Review by Lillian Crawford @lillcrawf

Directed by

Amy Seimetz

Starring

Jane Adams Kate Lyn Sheil Kentucker Audley

Anticipation.

Absolutely loved Amy Seimetz’s debut feature and this looks eerily timely.

Enjoyment.

Terrifying, experimental, and visually alluring, but a little disjointed.

In Retrospect.

Confirms Seimetz as a strong directorial voice unafraid to travel through the depths of the soul.

Amy Seimetz’s neon-soaked danse macabre is one of the year’s most chilling and effective horrors.

She Dies Tomorrow is your worst nightmare. You awake from it, breathing heavily, but your mind’s still there. Where in her first film, Sun Don’t Shine, director Amy Seimetz operated on a single oneiric layer, her second is a palimpsest of anxiety. But they feel connected in their traumas, with lead actor Kate Lyn Sheil dragging us kicking and screaming through the unconscious of her character, named Amy in a semi-autobiographical wink. It’s not a journey for the faint of heart.

I know She Dies Tomorrow is your worst nightmare because that’s how the narrative operates. Once you’ve caught the disease, the certainty of imminent death, nothing else matters and slowly all the characters spiral into the pit of depression.

At first glance it seems to be doing something similar to It Follows by David Robert Mitchell in its psychosomatic form of contagion, but where that film fell into stale convention, She Dies Tomorrow continually reinvents itself. The result feels akin to classic anthology horror like 1945’s Dead of Night, connected by universal dread but with a jarring effect which prevents certain characters we’d like to spend more time with from being developed.

Nonetheless, throughout the film Seimetz overwhelms us in its claustrophobic atmosphere. Sun Don’t Shine echoed other women-directed road movies, especially Barbara Loden’s Wanda and Kelly Reichardt’s River of Grass, by ironically juxtaposing the confined space of the car with the expanse of the American outdoors.

She Dies Tomorrow, meanwhile, owes more to the psychedelic horrors of Gaspar Noé or Jonathan Glazer in its dark spaces, which occasionally erupt into a frenzy of neon light. Seimetz pairs these moments with footage of blood-like substances in extreme close-up similar to the uncomfortable experiments of Stan Brakhage, such as Mothlight. If Sun Don’t Shine is day, She Dies Tomorrow is unmistakably night.

This intoxicating visual style is enhanced by the Mondo Boys’ original score, throbbing and pulsating with the quickening spread of the mental pandemic. The music is an extension of the ‘Lacrimosa’ from Mozart’s Requiem which Amy repeatedly plays on her record player, a piece only a character as accepting of her inevitable demise as she could dance to. It’s a danse macabre, the medieval allegory of humanity’s union in death, and a memento mori straight from the plague era – delayed in its release due to COVID-19, it’s all frighteningly à propos.

Perhaps it’s a blessing then that She Dies Tomorrow has emerged now. Rather than dragging us down with it, the film is a reminder that it’s alright to be frightened, to have days when everything feels like too much. Just as Amy wakes up in the nightmare at the start, it’s mirrored with a cyclical shot at the end – she’s broken out of her house and found her way toward the light. We wonder where she’s going next, but something tells us she’ll live tomorrow after all.

Published 25 Aug 2020

Tags: Amy Seimetz

Anticipation.

Absolutely loved Amy Seimetz’s debut feature and this looks eerily timely.

Enjoyment.

Terrifying, experimental, and visually alluring, but a little disjointed.

In Retrospect.

Confirms Seimetz as a strong directorial voice unafraid to travel through the depths of the soul.

Suggested For You

It Comes at Night

By Elena Lazic

This coldly affecting contagion horror excels in generating a sense of acute dread, but falls short on the story front.

review

Amy Seimetz: ‘There is no waking up from death’

By Lillian Crawford

The director of She Dies Tomorrow opens up about how anxiety and existential dread feed her creative spirit.

It Follows

By Anton Bitel

A petrifying and refreshingly original horror movie from American name-to-watch, David Robert Mitchell.

review LWLies Recommends

Little White Lies Logo

About Little White Lies

Little White Lies was established in 2005 as a bi-monthly print magazine committed to championing great movies and the talented people who make them. Combining cutting-edge design, illustration and journalism, we’ve been described as being “at the vanguard of the independent publishing movement.” Our reviews feature a unique tripartite ranking system that captures the different aspects of the movie-going experience. We believe in Truth & Movies.

Editorial

Design