She Dies Tomorrow movie review (2020)
The film starts with an extreme closeup of Kate Lyn Sheil’s ice-blue eyes, surrounded by smudged mascara, eyelashes wet with her tears, eyelashes stuck together, her eyes staring unblinkingly into … something hypnotic and frightening. The outside world does not exist. This opening image orients the viewer into the film’s modus operandi. Buckle your seatbelts. Sheil plays Amy, perhaps a clue to the film’s personal origins. Amy wanders through her house like a somnambulist, drinking profusely, pressing her body into the floorboards, the Mondo Boys’ cover of Mozart’s “Lacrimosa” on repeat on the turntable. Whatever is going on with her, she is deep into it at the film’s opening. Colored lights magically emanate from one of the empty rooms, and Sheil glides towards them, her face suffused with light as she stares directly into the camera, at what we do not know.
Other characters emerge. There’s Jane (Jane Adams), irritated from dealing with her friend Amy’s relapses. This time, though, Amy is practically in a fugue state. crawling through the dirt outside her house in a glittery gown, researching urns on the Internet, and whether or not local leather shops would make a jacket out of her skin when she’s gone. She informs Jane matter-of-factly “I’m going to die tomorrow” and Jane is, understandably, alarmed at this seemingly suicidal statement. But later, home alone, Jane is so overwhelmed by dread for no apparent reason she flees the house in her pajamas, and crashes a birthday party hosted by her brother Jason (Chris Messina). Amy’s awareness of imminent death is passed on to Jane. Jane, in turn, passes it on to Jason, his wife Susan (Katie Aselton), and their two guests (Tunde Adebimpe and Jennifer Kim).
Fear is present in every visual choice Seimetz makes: the camera placements are alarming, with sudden shifts of perspective. The camera moves to floor level or peeks through a partially closed door. The style is experimental yet coherent. “She Dies Tomorrow” jumps back and forth in time with no warning, skips from night to day and back, and although sometimes this technique is unnecessarily distracting and self-conscious, it adds to the feeling of disintegration, everything breaking down: norms, linear time, relationships.