Amy Seimetz's She Dies Tomorrow taps into a lingering aura of doom that seems all too pertinent to our current times. The film is somewhat of a character study about a single woman losing it but it can also be seen as a horror film. The film is thick on mood and thin on story. It taps into the current fears of many that are being faced with mortality.
Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil) drifts around her recently purchased house. It is empty for the most part but she drinks wine and plays records and has what feel like are hallucinations. She also shops for a leather jacket in hopes to be made into one. Sheil has worked with Seimetz several times. They capture alienation in a vivid way in the first 30 minutes of She Dies Tomorrow, building a sense of dread as Amy is convinced she will die tomorrow.
Amy tells her friend Jane (Jane Adams) that she will die. Jane reads it as a cry for help as Amy is a recovering alcoholic. But then something odd happens. Jane soon begins to think she will die tomorrow. It appears Amy's mood is contagious. Jane then goes to visit her brother Jason (Chris Messina) and his wife Susan (Katie Aselton). Here Jane is not the consoling friend but a burden to Susan, who sees her as annoying and pitiful. It is the best sequence in the film as it shows how someone can play different roles with different people.
It is here that She Dies Tomorrow loses its effectiveness. The contagious thought of dying tomorrow is repeated across several characters. Seimetz is after horror thrills but she also doesn't seem interested in the larger existential questions that the high concept raises. Characters are introduced, we see some things play out around the fear of dying tomorrow and then it repeats. We rarely learn anything about these people.
Vividly acted, She Dies Tomorrow is vague in what it aims to communicate. The mood is strong and the fear it depicts is real. Stylized dread is in abundance but the film never feels like it comes into focus. Had it focused on Amy and Jane alone, I think the film would have been very powerful. However, the story splinters in too many directions.