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Movie Review

Movie Review: 'She Dies Tomorrow' Cuts To The Core

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I’m far from the first person to point out that even though we all know we’re going to die, each of us secretly believes we’ll be the one who doesn’t. It’s a fiction we have to tell ourselves to function day-to-day. Constant acknowledgment of our impending plunge into the unknown would paralyze us.

 

Of course, this is what most horror movies are based on: our fear of death. And director Amy Seimetz has gone straight to the root of that with her new movie She Dies Tomorrow. Gone are the zombies and vampires and masked killers who serve as metaphors for that fear, as she’s stripped it down simply to that basic existential dread. To paraphrase: The only thing we have to fear is fear of death itself.

 

What exactly is happening in the movie is, at first, murky, as we meet Amy, a young woman who is, for no apparent reason, absolutely, positively sure she is going to die tomorrow. That she and the director have the same name can be no coincidence; I’m certain Seimetz is dealing with trauma of her own. As you’d expect, Amy is alternately panicked, angry, numb, and destructive as she stares the literal end of her existence in the face. She tells her friend Jane, and while Jane reacts skeptically, she does, soon enough, come around. And then some.

 

Our understanding of what’s going on slips in and out of focus as the rest of the film plays out, and the back half of the movie is very darkly, obliquely humorous. Seimetz employs her limited resources in exceedingly clever ways, using sound and especially light to make us incredibly uneasy—banal images become mesmerizing and grotesque as the pounding reality we all face becomes impossible to escape.

 

Seimetz credits Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion as an influence, which makes sense, as Soderbergh’s movie is essentially a slasher film with a virus as the killer. But even Contagion has that intermediary—She Dies Tomorrow cuts us to the core with its pure recognition of mortality. As a wise man said, you can’t stop what’s coming.