The best movie about panic attacks since Uncut Gems.
Amy Seimetz’s latest, She Dies Tomorrow, is a gorgeous slow-burner about a woman, Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil, as great in this as she was in Kate Plays Christine) who is convinced she will die the next day – with a couple of twists. In fact, it’s hard to describe much more of the setup, which is quite gradually revealed, without giving away half of the movie. I do recommend this one, so if that’s all you need to know, please look away now…
Ok, still here? So, the twist is that this certainty about impending death appears to be contagious – when her sister Jane (Jane Adams, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) tries to talk her out of it, she too is infected with the certainty of doom. And so on and so on. The first half of the film is mostly focussed on Amy and to a lesser extent Jane, and it is wonderful – reminiscent of Birth or Give Me Shelter in its portrayal of people confidently asking others to accept something nonsensical on pure faith, and mostly failing.
Indeed, the depiction of the psychosis (or is it?) is based on Seimetz’s experience of trying to describe her panic attacks to friends and acquaintances and having them simply laugh her off or change the subject.
In the second half, as the contagion spreads more widely, the film loses focus somewhat – not even a late appearance of a glammed-up Michelle Rodriguez (Fast Five) can keep things entirely on track. But even then it’s odd and unsettling enough to keep you watching, in part due to the good will the opening scenes have imparted. And the lighting and framing throughout have a gorgeous ethereal beauty to them – the purple glows suggestive of cosmic horrors beyond the frame, and beyond our comprehension.
It’s also no surprise to see Benson and Moorhead in the producers’ credits. This film is very much in their wheelhouse: odd, enigmatic, creepy psuedo-scifi. Recommended!
She Dies Tomorrow is available from August 28 on VOD (Curzon Home Cinema, BFI Player) and digital download.