How does the world end? When it’s in the hands of director Amy Seimetz, as it is in She Dies Tomorrow, it ends in horrific, magnificent, and timely ways. It ends with a virus.
Not just any virus, mind you. It’s the story of a virus that’s passed from person to person, but the pathogen is an idea: the knowing that you will die tomorrow. Kate Lyn Sheil stars as Amy, patient zero in our story, and her sad eyes and glazed expressions create an anguishing screen presence. At night, she drifts into a trance, drinking wine, listening to Mozart and wandering through her house, lit by neon colors that illustrate her emotions (red for anger, blue for calm, etc). She wakes up gasping from dreams about an old lover, then calls her friend, Jane (Jane Adams), for help.
Before you can yell “social distancing!” at the screen, Jane catches the virus, then spreads it at her sister-in-law’s birthday party. Soon, it seems everyone is going to die tomorrow, and Seimetz deftly explores how characters cope with that reality in different ways. Would you, like one character, feel relieved that you can now end a relationship, or would you, like Amy, wallow in regret, depression, and Mozart?
Hovering somewhere between the melancholy of Three Colors: Blue and the doomed inevitability of Melancholia, the film’s surrealist aesthetic leans heavily on Jay Keitel’s woozy cinematography and a stylish sound design. The deserted rooms and porches, sudden bursts of color and music, are intertwined into an eerie, tone-poem structure. She Dies Tomorrow is confusing at times, but so is dealing with loss and isolation and a virus. It’s one of those movies you’ll want to watch twice — assuming, that is, you are alive long enough to do so.
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