Some horror/thriller movies grab you by the throat — metaphorically, of course — from the moment they begin, rarely letting up. Others can be a slow build to a terrifying climax. But few hide their intentions from the audience, as the whole point is to make people as scared as possible.
That is the exact opposite approach of the supposed thriller She Dies Tomorrow, which takes its sweet time getting to any kind of point. Centered on Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil), the film spends its first 15+ minutes watching her wander around her house in a kind of catatonic state. Why is she acting like this? What is she thinking? Good luck figuring that out, as there are only brief, cryptic lines of dialogue during that entire section, coupled with baffling, psychedelic imagery.
Once actual conversations start to happen when Amy’s friend Jane (Jane Adams) comes over, things don’t get any clearer. The only thing that is understandable is that Amy thinks she’s going to die tomorrow, thoughts that somehow migrate to Jane and multiple other characters as the movie goes along.
Written and directed by Amy Seimetz, the film is about as pretentious as they come. It’s doubtful most people will be willing to make it through the initial mind-numbing section, and even if they do, there’s little in the way of a reward later on. Seimetz prefers to keep things ultra-vague, as if ambiguity were a virtue in and of itself. There can certainly be a place for that in films, but it’s also advisable to give your audience something tangible on which to hold.
Some may compare the constant feelings of dread the characters are experiencing to the current state of the world, but that’s giving the film too much credit, not least because it was made well before the pandemic. Given that she named her main character Amy, Seimetz may be trying to give a window into her personality, but there are few aspects of the film that help the audience connect with Amy or any other character.
Since the film is essentially formless, the actors do as well as they can with the material. The cast, which also includes Chris Messina, Katie Aselton, Tunde Adebimpe, and cameos by Josh Lucas and Michelle Rodriguez, all appear to be completely game for anything Seimetz wants them to do, no matter how bizarre. Sheil gets by far the most screentime, but strangely her character is the least knowable of any of them.
She Dies Tomorrow is the kind of film that makes people hate arthouse movies. The title seems to promise a certain type of experience, but the film delivers something completely different. It may be art, but it sure as hell isn’t entertainment.
She Dies Tomorrow is available on August 7 via streaming options like Apple TV, FandangoNow, and Google Play.