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On VOD: SHE DIES TOMORROW (2020)

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SHE DIES TOMORROW
(US - 2020)

Written and directed by Amy Seimetz. Cast: Kate Lyn Sheil, Jane Adams, Kentucker Audley, Katie Aselton, Chris Messina, Tunde Adebimpe, Jennifer Kim, Josh Lucas, Adam Wingard, Michelle Rodriguez, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Madison Calderon, James Benning, Oden Mack. (R, 85 mins)

Amy Seimetz is no stranger to the indie mumblecore scene with roles in films like THE MYTH OF THE AMERICAN SLEEPOVER, UPSTREAM COLOR, and YOU'RE NEXT, and co-creating the acclaimed Starz series THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE, but she's also turned up in bigger and more widely-seen projects like ALIEN: COVENANT and had a recurring role on STRANGER THINGS. Channeling her inner John Cassavetes, she called in favors from some friends and reportedly used the paycheck she received for starring in last year's instantly forgotten PET SEMATARY remake to fund her latest writing/directing effort, SHE DIES TOMORROW. An intriguing apocalyptic horror film of sorts, SHE DIES TOMORROW stars Kate Lyn Sheil as Amy, a recovering alcoholic who's just bought her first home and is in the process of unpacking when she's overcome with an all-consuming sense of dread that she's going to die tomorrow. She calls her friend Jane (Jane Adams) and has already relapsed with several bottles of wine before Jane gets to the house. After telling Amy to sleep it off, Jane goes home and is soon stricken with the same paralyzing fear. She heads to her brother Jason's (Chris Messina) house, despite having already bailed on her bitchy sister-in-law Susan's (Katie Aselton) birthday party. Jane's incessant talk of dying tomorrow infuriates Susan, but hits a nerve with their party guests Brian (Tunde Adebimpe) and Tilly (Jennifer Kim). Soon, Jason and Susan are affected by the same crushing feeling of impending death that they're certain will come for them the next day.






If you can imagine a mash-up of PONTYPOOL, IT FOLLOWS, and Don McKellar's LAST NIGHT filtered through the surreal colorgasms of Panos Cosmatos and infused with the disconnect and alienation of vintage Antonioni, you sorta have an idea what SHE DIES TOMORROW is getting at. It's a pandemic of existential dread and anxiety, and though the film wrapped before the advent of COVID-19, the unintentional metaphorical implications are right there. Flashbacks and a non-linear structure (of course) show how the virus was transmitted to Amy via a new boyfriend (Kentucker Audley), but by the time Jane is passing it on to her brother and sister-in-law, their friends, and an ER doc (Josh Lucas), things become repetitive and Seimetz is just spinning her wheels. In the end, it's more of a stylistic exercise than anything else, and ultimately ends up coming off almost like an indie mumblecore parody. And that's even after it somehow recovers--for a while, at least--from an off-putting opening 20 minutes that's disorienting by design but ultimately doesn't really have anywhere else to go or anything else to say. Seimetz obviously has some directing chops and some dark comedic bits work (Amy doing some urn shopping online, a stressed Jane taking some time to step on some bubble wrap for that cathartic pop that everyone loves), but the tiresome SHE DIES TOMORROW just grows more tedious and pretentious as it goes on. And the incessant deployment of Mozart's "Requiem"--a clever choice in that it was left unfinished at the time of his death in 1791--ends up feeling like a highbrow riff on "Rocky Mountain High" from FINAL DESTINATION.





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