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She Dies Tomorrow

Review by Craig Draheim

Writer/Director: Amy Seimetz

Starring: Kate Lyn Sheil, Jane Adams, Chris Messina, Katie Aselton, Tunde Adebimpe, Jennifer Kim​

Seimetz created a hypnotic trail of cryptic messages, mental health, and mortality, and I walked the path without hesitation. Now the beauty of She Dies Tomorrow lies in its plot, as something that could be expanded upon as a larger piece but also is personal enough to keep an intimacy of a lower budget film. The story begins with Amy, who believes that she will die the following day (tomorrow). We witness Amy coming to terms with her end. However, this is not a singular incident based on one person’s mental health, but rather the notion of dying tomorrow spreads like a virus to whoever listens to the infected person. Now this has The Lobster-level black comedy, or some sort of paranoia horror written all over it. Instead of going those routes, Seimetz returns to her mumblecore, arthouse roots, creating a poignant piece that is more about the characters coming to terms with their death rather than the cause. For me, the concept is outstanding and when the virus moves to Jane (Adams) there are pockets that are brilliant. The acting is great by the majority of those involved, pretty to look at, directed well, and is incredibly personal with a strong artistic voice. Yet with its laundry list of positives, it did not sway me one way or the other, because it missed urgency and that entertainment factor that makes me want to watch, and most of all enjoy watching. By “enjoy” I don’t mean it has to be fun, but rather engaging or compelling. Earlier I mentioned black comedy or paranoia horror, which is to suggest changing the approach is a horrible form of criticism, because it is not the version Amy Seimetz wished to tell. What I am suggesting is this incredible concept is limitless in its unique stylistic choices, and the style we got works, but for me it felt like how non-arthouse fans view arthouse cinema. A prime example is within the movie we listen to the same song on repeat four times, while watching Amy do a series of menial coping activities. By the second time you get the point and it’s effective. Perfect. By the fourth time it feels like filler to reach an appropriate feature length. Therapeutic filmmaking. Which is fine, and in theory all filmmaking or art should be therapeutic in some form. But with film or theatre or any other medium of dramatic storytelling it is both a collaborative effort and designed for an audience’s response, which ultimately means, we must be given a tiny dash of that entertainment factor. ​ She Dies Tomorrow is not the only film to do this recently in the independent film industry, especially with the incorporation of companies taking more of a chance on “elevated horror” (a horrible term). But it allowed me the opportunity to have this discussion on arthouse horror. I’ve acknowledged my love for the concept and the themes hit me on a very personal level that I can see returning to for another viewing at some point. Overall, it falls into those middle ground categories that is a technical marvel and well-intentioned but is missing those small (but crucial) pieces to be something noteworthy. 2 1/5 out of 5

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