Cert – 15, Run-time – 1 hour 26 minutes, Director – Amy Seimetz
A recovering alcoholic (Kate Lyn Sheil) is adamant that she is going to die in a days time. While those around her initially think this is part of her withdrawal they soon feel the same, creating a contagious feeling of anxiety.
Anxiety spreads. Or at least the effects of it are felt by those who may not find themselves experiencing it. Writer-director Amy Seimetz has claimed that She Dies Tomorrow is based on her experiences of the way that people have reacted to stories of her own anxiety attacks in the past. The central figure of the film, Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil) is certain that she is going to die in a day. Initially her friend Jane (Jane Adams) puts this down to Amy recovering from alcoholism, and having drunk that night. However, as she leaves Jane begins to also feel the weight of fear and worry that she too is going to die the next day. Soon, the spread of imminent death begins to spread and a wave of anxiety and paranoia overcomes multiple people.
There’s an interesting visual representation of anxiety within the film. The light switches from red to blue, like American police lights. There’s a feeling of worry as if the character’s have done something wrong, although unaware of it, and something bad is coming right around the corner; although instead of the police it’s death. The camera focuses directly on the face of each individual as their faces gradually contort into expressions of emotion or terror, or even shock and realisation. Everyone reacts in a different way and the emphasis on this by the performances add to the film’s nature. It might seem like a slow-burn, although the run-time is only 86 minutes long, but there’s certainly enough detail and stylistic representation in there to keep the viewer seated for the short amount of time that the film lasts for.
The slow burn nature in a number of ways helps the film. It heightens the strain and tension that some of the characters feel. The gradual release of emotions. As anxiety hits the close-ups on their expressions almost seem to turn to slow motion, although this isn’t the case it’s because of the levels of detail there and the specific reactions of each character that the impactful feeling comes around and almost strikes the viewer too. Slightly shaking them with a mild chill each time a character has to face the unknown; the belief that they are going to die tomorrow.
While the spread of fear and the way that it impacts characters is interesting the connection that you have with these figures isn’t quite as strong. Initially there seems to be a chaptered, almost anthology style, nature to the narrative. Each character almost seems to have an allocated space of time, leaving the others in either the background or simply left out until either returned to or not seen again. Amy is very much the centre of the piece, her story is the centre and the spawn for all of this. And yet as the film switches to Jane Amy’s story simply ceases for a period of time. Only returning once another chunk of the film is out the way. You don’t exactly forget that she exists, or what her story is – although the story is relatively light in the film, not that that’s a bad thing – this is a film about impact and spread more than anything else, and those themes are handled well and with an interesting style thanks to Seimetz’s direction. However, the lack of a proper connection with the characters does mean that the impact of the film’s events and ideas isn’t felt as largely as it possibly could be. Fortunately there’s plenty of style and provocatively striking imagery and ideas to keep the viewer in their seat and within the world of turbulence and chaos that the film creates for its characters.
There may not be a strong connection with the characters, but the detail and style of She Dies Tomorrow is plenty enough to keep the viewer seated throughout its unique and almost dizzying effective slow burn run-time.