Welcome back to Knockout Horror and to a Horror Movie Review. Today we are taking a look at Amy Seimetz’ psychological horror come thriller – She Dies Tomorrow. Representing a somewhat experimental take on issues of anxiety and existential crises. She Dies Tomorrow is one of those movies that highlights something very stark. The difference between what critics want from movies and what viewers want.
Widely praised by the online film reviewing community. The average viewer’s take on this movie appears to be drastically different. This is a film that seems to have benefited greatly from it’s Covid release date. Seemingly capturing histrionic critics at their weakest. While they desperately looked for something to relate to the specific moment in time.
So where do I stand on this issue? Well, considering the score above. The answer is, probably, fairly self explanatory. This movie didn’t do much for me in the slightest. Whereas I can appreciate the approach and what the director was going for. I just feel as though, as a piece of entertainment media. She Dies Tomorrow is lacking in multiple areas. Whereas this movie raises some salient points about mental health. As well as the lack of communication around said issues. It quickly becomes repetitive and begins to feel rather redundant. Let’s take a look.
She Dies Tomorrow follows the story of Amy. Amy, a former alcoholic, has recently purchased a house. Calling Amy up to congratulate her on the big life move. Her friend Jane is surprised by her bizarre manner of speaking. Believing she has consumed alcohol and is, perhaps, not doing so well. Jane visits Amy’s house to check up on her. While there, Amy seems seriously out of sorts. While chatting, Amy tells Jane that she is going to die tomorrow. Thinking that this is a simple result of Amy drinking alcohol. Jane tells her she isn’t dying and leaves. Soon, however, it becomes clear to Jane. That maybe Amy had a point and she needs to investigate further.
So picture yourself lying there in bed. It’s 4am and you have to be up early in the morning. Unable to sleep and sick of counting down the minutes. You begin to think about life and the fragility of existence. Staring at the ceiling and more awake than ever. You now spend the next hour absorbed by a deep and nauseating existential crisis.
It consumes your thoughts. “Why am I here?”. “What is the point in this?”. “Why do I fill my days when existence is pointless?”. Now, imagine you could take that feeling and pass it on to someone you know. Only for them to then pass it on to someone they know. And so on and so forth. That is, basically, the entire premise of She Dies Tomorrow. Nothing more and nothing less.
Written and Directed by Pet Sematary actor Amy Seimetz. The fact that the main character here shares a name with our writer. Is little in the way of coincidence. This is very much a self insert story about one person’s struggles with anxiety. Focusing on the writer’s inability to communicate these issues. Or to relate their fears to other people. Be it through lack of understanding on the part of the person on the receiving end of said story. Or a lack of ability to illustrate it by the person attempting to convey it. She Dies Tomorrow sometimes feels like the horror movie version of an edgy teen shouting “You don’t know my struggles”.
Despite the majority of people experiencing anxiety at some point in their life. Seimetz relates these issues as if alien to the masses. Whether this is commendable. Or actually demonstrates a significant level of insular thinking on her part. Is a debate for another article. It has to be pointed out, however. That the denizens of Hollywood live in a different world from us mere mortals. Maybe anxiety is fairly foreign, there. Still, the subject matter is relevant and important. Maybe more so now than ever before.
Presenting the subject in a sympathetic manner. She Dies Tomorrow is designed to make people relate to the condition. Anxiety is a serious issue impacting every part of a person’s life. The life of a sufferer can be a lonely one. Attempting to make people understand the persistent intrusive thoughts common with the disorder. Can be a difficult task. Maybe the best way to do it. Is to present a bunch of people afflicted by contagious thoughts of impending doom? Does it make for good entertainment, though? Well, not really.
We have, likely, all experienced existential dread at some point or another. It’s part of the human condition, after all. It can be a troubling thought and impacts the way a person may live their life. Some people are less likely to take risks. Wanting to stay as safe as possible. Others are more likely to take risks. Having greater openness to experience and wanting to do more in life.
She Dies Tomorrow adopts the subject of existential dread. Using it as a metaphor for the more wide ranging issue of Anxiety. Presenting it as contagious and wondering, aloud, how other people would cope. How would you live your life if you really thought you would die tomorrow? Would you sit in a corner, curled in a ball and crying your eyes out. Would you laugh about it and spend it having fun? Or would you simply share your last moments with the people you love?
She Dies Tomorrow acts as something of a cathartic presentation of this. We see characters reacting to the news in different ways. Some cope well, others laugh, some break down in tears. It’s a fairly interesting concept. She Dies Tomorrow illustrates the topic of anxiety attacks. In a way that is, perhaps, understandable to all. Not everyone experiences panic attacks or extreme anxiety. Most people, however, do experience existential dread. It’s easy to relate to and makes the subject of anxiety easy to appreciate.
The problems start when you look past this important topic and consider She Dies Tomorrow as a story. This is a movie that will feel familiar to anyone who has watched the fantastic Pontypool. In fact, it is executed in such a similar manner that it kind of irked me throughout. Whereas Pontypool was a fantastic and impactful horror movie, however. She Dies Tomorrow feels like a concept. A concept that is stretched to the point of tearing and quick to wear out its welcome.
What starts as a fairly interesting story of a woman with a complicated history. Rapidly reveals itself to be painfully shallow. She Dies Tomorrow abandons any sense of intrigue. Transforming into a laborious exercise in repetition. Taking the same point made early in the movie. And beating it to within an inch of its life. This feels like a movie with a stutter. Constantly re-treading the same ground over and over.
As each new character utters the words “I am going to die tomorrow”. It starts to become, almost, a little comical. The reactions of characters are incredibly tame, as well. Never adding anything new. Expecting the viewer to simply engage in the core message and demand nothing more. This is a movie that wants you to think. It’s just not quite sure what about. It’s almost infantile in its presentation. Both unrealistic and rather immature.
The sense of repetition here quickly becomes jarring. Seeing different characters react to the situation adds little to the story. An obnoxious cast doesn’t offer much opportunity for relating. Added to this, the characters are presented as two dimensional stereotypes. Keen to fill every potential reaction to the film’s primary question. With the only exception being. The reactions of people who might actually do something interesting.
This robs the movie of any surprises or sense of intrigue. You know how these characters will react. They are plastic and vapid. Sure to offer little to care about and little to invest in. It’s, unfortunately, just not that interesting. As well as being very predictable and by the numbers. Despite the non-standard presentation.
She Dies Tomorrow simply feels very half baked. It meanders through its runtime, never really aiming to get anywhere significant. Content to wander among the reeds. Repeating itself over and over again. It’s a movie based on a single idea. An idea that is almost impossible to build an entire film around.
Much like Skinamarink, this feels like something that should have been a short movie. Unlike, Skinamarink, however; the movie isn’t entertaining. The message here is stretched to the point of tearing. The fact that it has slotted itself into the horror/thriller genre is baffling. It doesn’t feel at all fitting for either genre. Never offering any real suspense and never paying off on its setups.
Direction is frustrating. This is a movie that some might describe as rather pretentious. Presented as something of an arthouse movie. There is a distinct focus on the unimportant and the irrelevant. It could be described, accurately, as incredibly self indulgent. Greedily eating up the viewer’s time to present meaningless visuals that add little. Still, there is an audience for this type of movie. For the most part, it looks fairly nice. If you enjoy arthouse, there is nothing for you to dislike here. It fits very nicely into this niche. Some of the shots are creative and quite interesting. It’s, altogether, not too bad.
My issues with She Dies Tomorrow come in the form of pacing and character presentation. The manner in which characters speak is incredibly frustrating. Its almost strained at times. Were they instructed to speak in such a breathy manner? It is difficult to hear certain characters. And just, generally, uncomfortable on the ears. It annoyed me greatly. I have watched far too many arthouse style movies with this manner of speaking. It is a horribly obnoxious trait of American cinema.
Pacing is a big problem. This movie has so little meat on the bones. There is no way it could feel anything other than stretched. It has so little to say that it begins repeating itself. Making it feel like you are stuck in a time loop. Continuity also feels messy. The story flicks between numerous characters offering little separation. Sometimes looking into the past before racing back to the present. It feels like it is dragging its feet. Eager to stick around rather than bowing out early.
Acting is fine but I found all of the characters rather unlikeable. Kate Sheil, as Amy, wanders around speaking quietly and having poor elocution. It’s a dreamy, disconnected, and rather annoying performance. But fitting of this type of movie. Jane Adams, as Jane, starts fairly strong before turning into an annoying child. Tunde Adebimpe, as Brian, and Jennifer Kim, as Tilly, offer the best performances. Feeling like their characters have more development and deeper complexity. It’s all exactly what you would expect from a movie like this.
She Dies Tomorrow will definitely appeal to some people. The disparity between the critic reviews and user reviews is enormous, though. This is, almost, a movie made for critics. Full of ideas, concepts, and unanswered questions. Despite the lacking execution and empty, desperately, thin plot. Critics seem, almost, too scared to criticise it. Perhaps because of the subject matter? Many act like it is a piece of art deserving of praise, regardless of quality. It is rather baffling. Naturally, my loyalty is to my readers, not movie makers. With this in mind, I am not willing to offer She Dies Tomorrow the same liberties. I simply can’t recommend this movie.
She Dies Tomorrow is a concept masquerading as a thriller/horror movie. Lacking in plot and anything of any substance. This is a movie that asks a simple question. Before asking it again, and again, and again, and again. Keen to make the viewer share in the experiences of anxiety sufferers. This is a movie that may appeal to people who relate. Even as someone with a severe mental health condition. I did not find much to enjoy here. It feels shallow and rather redundant.
If you enjoy arthouse movies and don't need a strong plot to find enjoyment. She Dies Tomorrow may be right up your alley. It raises some interesting questions about existential dread and anxiety. As a piece of art, perhaps it is absolutely fine. As a piece of entertainment media, however. It falls extremely flat.
This is a movie that has little to say. Engaging in repetition, almost, from the start. It's almost like long form tautology. There is absolutely no way I can recommend this movie to my readers, as a whole. Some will find something to like. The majority will feel like this movie is wasting their time, though. Just like during those moments. Lying in bed, alone, at 4am, staring at the ceiling. Questioning the meaning of your own existence. I would rather be sleeping than watch She Dies Tomorrow.