I know Amy Seimetz more as an actress than I do as a filmmaker. I also know more of her mainstream and/or genre work (“You’re Next,” “Alien: Covenant,” “Pet Sematary” (2019)) than I do her independent efforts (“The Myth of the American Sleepover,” “Tiny Furniture,” “Upstream Color”). I haven’t seen her feature directorial debut, “Sun Don’t Shine,” despite having heard good things about it. I haven’t seen her television work as an actress (“The Killing”) nor as the creative driving force (“The Girlfriend Experience”).
This brings us to Seimetz’s second feature directorial effort, “She Dies Tomorrow,” available on VOD beginning Friday, July 31. The movie is pretty much what its title tells you it is. Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil) is in recovery and has just parted ways with her boyfriend, Craig (Kentucker Audley – pretty much the best/worst name in the world). Upset about their separation, Amy falls off the wagon. She begins drinking heavily and calls her friend, Jane (Jane Adams), to declare that, “I’m going to die tomorrow.” Jane, concerned with her friend’s well-being, goes and checks on her. Upon visiting with Amy, Jane too comes to the conclusion that she herself is going to die tomorrow as well. And so it spreads …
I know the movie was made before COVID-19, but it accidentally plays as a perfect analogy to this particular moment. Simply by being with someone else you could possibly be killing them. Fear is contagious in “She Dies Tomorrow,” much like it is now in our own reality.
“She Dies Tomorrow” plays like a mumblecore version of “Final Destination” with a dash of sexless “It Follows” and a pinch of David Lynch thrown in for good measure. I detested the picture for the first 20 minutes of its 84 minute runtime, but there’s a scene in which Jane visits her brother, Jason (Chris Messina), his wife, Susan (Katie Aselton of “The League”) and their friends, Brian (Tunde Adebimpe, frontman of TV on the Radio) and Tilly (Jennifer Kim) where I fell into the movie’s rhythms. I think much of this is attributable to preferring Adams’ screen presence over Sheil’s.
Adams is an actress I’ve admired for some time. Whether it’s in Todd Solondz’s “Happiness,” doing tiny turns in “Wonder Boys” and “Orange County” or playing Thomas Jane’s pimp on HBO’s “Hung,” Adams has always made an impression. Adams is a slender woman, but her face has grown fuller and hair grayer. In spite of this, her skin is immaculate. Adams’ look is a fascinating one and undoubtedly suited to the subject matter – having someone who’s simultaneously youthful and aged in a picture preoccupied with death is haunting. And the fact that Adams has actors as good as Messina, Aselton and Adebimpe to play off of doesn’t hurt matters either. Late picture joinees Josh Lucas, Michelle Rodriguez and director Adam Wingard also add to the proceedings.
I can’t recommend a movie I hated one-quarter of, but I think certain audiences will really respond to “She Dies Tomorrow.” It’s undeniably cinema of irritation … you probably know if that’s your bag or not and if you’re game for such a thing in these already irritable times.