She Dies Tomorrow
by Hope Madden
I smell an intriguing trend in indie horror: embracing the apocalypse.
She Dies Tomorrow is a horror film that’s one part Coherence, one part The Beach House, one part The Signal (2007, not 2014) and yet somehow entirely its own. It helps that so few people have seen any of those other movies, but the truth is that writer/director Amy Seimetz (creator of The Girlfriend Experience) is simply braiding together themes that have quietly influenced SciFi horror hybrids of late. What she does with these themes is pretty remarkable.
Her film weaves in and out of the current moment, delivering a dreamlike structure that suits its trippy premise. Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil) believes she is going to die tomorrow. She knows it. She’s sure.
She calls her friend Jane (the always amazing Jane Adams), who senses that Amy is not OK but has this obligation to go to her sister-in-law’s party…whatever, she’ll stop over on her way.
By the time Jane gets to the party, she’s also quite certain she will die tomorrow. It isn’t long before the partygoers sense their own imminent deaths; meanwhile, Amy is spreading her perception contagion elsewhere.
Seimetz’s horror is really only existential, although like The Signal (and The Crazies before it), She Dies Tomorrow is more than slightly interested in what individuals do with this disheartening information. What a superb way to cut directly to character development.
This gives the film an episodic quality, allowing even characters in minor roles to express their individuality. Adams is characteristically wonderful, both logical and a bit batty, lonely and strangely optimistic. Chris Messina and Katie Aselton impress with a lived-in couplehood, and both Josh Lucas and Adam Wingard are used deftly to bring an almost melancholy comic relief to a couple scenes.
Sheil anchors the film. With the most time to get comfortable with her lot, Amy drifts through the stages of grief and fear, ending on a resigned kind of anticipation that feels comfortable with the tone Seimetz creates.
From beginning to end, the film transmits a quiet, creeping dread. Seimetz can’t entirely capitalize on the intoxicating world she’s created, but hers is a unique voice and beguiling vision.