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  She Dies Tomorrow Just Can't Go On
Year: 2020
Director: Amy Seimetz
Stars: Kate Lyn Sheil, Jane Adams, Kentucker Audley, Katie Aselton, Chris Messina, Tunde Adebimpe, Jennifer Kim, Josh Lucas, Adam Wingard, Michelle Rodriguez, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Madison Calderon, James Benning, Oden Mack
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Science Fiction, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil) has recently moved into a new house and should by all rights be enjoying unpacking and getting the place just as she wants it. However, she is not feeling too well, for something has got into her bloodstream that has brought her to a kind of depression she is having trouble shifting. She takes a glass of wine, not recommended because she has substance abuse issues in the past, and phones up her best friend Jane (Jane Adams) to ask her to come over so she can discuss her worries, but Jane has to go over to her brother’s house for her sister-in-law's birthday. Amy makes it clear she is heading into a fug, and Jane says she'll do her best...

This little indie managed to infuriate a bunch of American drive-in patrons when, for want of a theatre to play it in, its distributor released it to the outdoor screens so it could at least be seen on a large "stage". Unfortunately, its stage should really have been an arthouse or indie cinema, not somewhere people go to see scuzzy horrors and comedies, and it died a death, gaining plenty of terrible word of mouth that would not have happened before a more sympathetic audience. For the haters, She Dies Tomorrow sounded like a promise rather than a threat, punishment for putting them through the boredom and confusion that was inflicted on them for eighty minutes.

On the other hand, it appeared director Amy Seimetz, an indie fixture in the acting world though she had dabbled in direction, was making a parody of those arthouse flicks where characters sit around contemplating their mortality. If it was a send-up of the kind of thing Michelangelo Antonioni made his stock in trade, well, it was about fifty to sixty years too late, but if you were aware of this style of drama you would be on board to see its ennui infect a bunch of Californians with more free time than sense. And the ennui, here developing into a feeling of impending doom, was literally infecting them, as however obliquely it was presented, we could tell the fatalism was being passed around.

As this was released at the time of a global pandemic, there were parallels that might not have been intentional at the point the project was instigated, but that sensation there was nothing worth living for if there was no tomorrow - because of disease, or global warming, or just because the population of Planet Earth stopped giving a shit en masse - was palpable in the media and interactions. Nobody goes online to check if they are alone in this outlook in the movie, they are long past caring within minutes of infection, but if they did you can imagine their social media channels littered with people offering their self-obsessed deathless prose to mark their passing from the world.

One issue, mind you: parodies of human behaviour are usually meant to be funny, and there was precious little to laugh at in Seimetz's script, maybe thanks to it striking a tad too close to home for many. Out of those who "got" what she was referring to, sending up the twenty-first century, that was, as those drive-in attendees took her film at face value, and given it was science fiction with one special effect, which was shining coloured lights on the faces of her cast to indicate infection, it was perversely reluctant to play by the rules. As Amy passes the doom onto Jane, and she in turn passes it onto the birthday gathering, and even a doctor who examines her, we start to see it has affected many more: late on, there are a couple of scenes with Michelle Rodriguez and Olivia Taylor Dudley as afflicted housebreakers. And they summed up the overall pressure of impending death: they acted stoned. This was a very druggy movie in its effects, as if the characters were growing drunker or more stoned the further it progressed. That might appeal to specific viewers; it was strange and woozy, that's for sure. Music by Mondo Boys.

[She Dies Tomorrow is on Curzon Home Cinema, BFI Player and Digital Download 28 August.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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