They say patience is a virtue, and that maxim definitely holds true in the case of Amy Seimetz’s stately, haunting She Dies Tomorrow (2020). An extended mood piece that masterfully lifts the veil on its core mystery, it’s an artsy but powerful thing, bolstered by strong performances and a subdued, surreal vibe.
The film begins with a tight, inscrutable focus on a young woman named Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil), who maneuvers aimlessly through a recently purchased, not-yet-unpacked house in a hollow-eyed daze. Something is clearly bothering her, but we don’t learn precisely what until, during an alcoholic relapse, she is visited by her friend Jane (Jane Adams). Amy confesses she is wracked with premonitory certainty she is going to die the next day. Jane’s efforts to talk her down bear no bruit, leaving Amy to aimlessly navigate a path forward that seems destined to fail.
If the plot doesn’t sound like much, that’s because there isn’t much of one, and also because what there is—a gradual, thematic unveiling—is a massive spoiler for an idea best experienced in the moment. Seimetz, a talented actress who wrote and directed this one, brings keen psychological insight and an eerie vision to the project, eliciting an accessible central performance from Sheil, another fine turn from the underrated Adams, and affecting support from Tunde Adebimpe, Katie Aselton, Kentucker Audley, Jennifer Kim, and Chris Messina, among others. The glacial pace takes patience to warm up to, but gives the film an appropriately mysterious heft; like life, it feels longer than it actually is, which sounds like a criticism but speaks effectively to its metaphorical underpinnings. She Dies Tomorrow may be packaged like horror and feel like science fiction, but it plays out like an elegiac visual poem, with surprising interpretive depths.