You know how the more a person says something, the more they repeat it whether or not it’s true, people begin to take it as fact?
Take Donald Trump and the countless lies he’s restated over the course of his seemingly endless presidency and the way certain segments of the population gobble it up like it’s the truth dipped in chocolate.
The same kind of situation occurs in writer/director Amy Seimetz’s pitch-black comedy “She Dies Tomorrow” (Neon). Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil), an alcoholic who abruptly ends her recovery, is convinced that she will die tomorrow. The first person she tells is highly suggestible Jane (Jane Adams who steals the show in every scene in which she appears), and that’s probably a bad idea. A visual artist who is one blank canvas away from insanity, Jane becomes completely obsessed with her own death.
Amy, who has moved into a new house, which is filled with boxes, has managed to unpack her turntable and her LPs, and repeatedly plays the same album, while virtually climbing the walls. An attempt at connecting with nature in her backyard fails. She tries on some of the clothes in her closet and settles on a sequined dress before returning to the yard, where Jane finds her messing with a leaf blower. Jane has no patience for Amy’s drunken nonsense and leaves. Soon after, Amy sees a series of flashing multicolor lights and hears voices.
At home, Jane calls her brother Jason (Chris Messina) and backs out of attending a birthday party for her sister-in-law and nemesis Susan (Katie Aselton). She heads into her basement workshop where she looks at slides under a microscope and photographs them to create her art. Before you know it, Jane sees the same flashing lights and hears voices, just like Amy did. She runs from the house in her pajamas and slippers and heads to Jason and Susan’s where she basically ruins the party also attended by Brian (Tunde Adebimpe) and Tilly (Jennifer Kim). Jane’s rants about her impending death not only has an impact on Brian and Tilly’s relationship, but also sends Jason and Susan on a terrifying path of their own.
A series of flashbacks involving Amy and her boyfriend Craig (Kentucker Audley) provide some insight into Amy’s off-kilter trajectory.
Amy, the kind of recovering addict who thought it was all right to do shrooms as long as she steered clear of alcohol, doesn’t seem capable of taking responsibility for the affect her actions will have on anyone else in her direct range. Then comes the bloodshed.
What at first seems like a style over substance psychological horror flick with David Lynchian aspirations turns out to be a twisting and turning descent into madness, as well as a possible morality tale about substance abuse. That’s not to say that it isn’t pretentious as all get out, but self-consciously so, as if it’s laughing and gasping along with us. Vaguely reminiscent of Max Barbakow’s “Palm Springs” (although not nearly as funny), where everyone, the dying included, is in on the joke.
Screen Savor is a weekly column from SFGN’s film critic Gregg Shapiro. Shapiro is an entertainment journalist, whose interviews and reviews run in regional LGBT and mainstream media outlets. Shapiro is the author of seven books including the 2019 chapbooks, Sunshine State and More Poems About Buildings and Food. Shapiro lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with his husband Rick and their dog Coco.