Amy Seimetz’s new movie She Dies Tomorrow is a harrowing expertise. Somewhere between a horror film and an experimental movie, it follows a lady named Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil) who immediately turns into totally satisfied that she’s going to die inside 24 hours. As she shares this conviction along with her greatest pal Jane (Jane Adams), she units off a sequence response of spreading concern and nervousness, with a rising cloud of individuals confronting their very own mortality. It’s a riveting movie, nevertheless it doesn’t lend itself to straightforward solutions or evaluation.
Seimetz is a longtime actress, recognized for initiatives together with Stranger Things, Alien: Covenant, and The Killing. She’s additionally the writer-director of the movie Sun Don’t Shine, and co-creator and producer of Starz’s sequence The Girlfriend Experience. But she’s by no means written and directed something fairly like She Dies Tomorrow. So Polygon talked to her about what she meant for the movie, the way it channels her personal nervousness, and the way viewers have been deciphering it.
This interview has been edited for concision and readability.
Is anyone experiencing this movie the way in which you need them to expertise it? So lots of the opinions try to unlock it like a puzzle. Have you had any response that’s both a spot-on interpretation, or simply taking within the film the way in which you meant?
Amy Seimetz: I’ve to be fairly sincere, I haven’t actually learn that a lot. I’ve been making an attempt to remain off the web. But I feel essentially the most fascinating factor, my favourite half, is that it seems like individuals are taking it in personally. That’s all I need, is for those who can simply go along with the film, then ask your individual questions. I’m not telling anybody what to consider it, I’m not giving anybody any solutions. What I meant was like, “Come along with this. Come along on this ride with me, because this is how I’m experiencing life. Then do with it what you will.” It’s meant to entertain, nevertheless it’s additionally meant to stay with folks and hold them occupied with their very own experiences with dying, and their very own experiences with isolation and nervousness. I do suppose, from the little I’ve learn, that individuals are writing about it in a really private approach, which is thrilling.
That’s what struck me about it — individuals are responding to it from their very own expertise, however they’re additionally so definitive about it. The film feels as if it was designed to be open to interpretation, however then a critic will say one thing like “The ending isn’t cathartic as a result of it’s particularly about how treating psychological sickness is an ongoing course of. That is what this film means.” How does that type of decisive assertion land with you?
I feel they could be appropriate, however there are additionally so many different issues that it’s about. That’s why I took such a minimalist strategy to it. That assertion you talked about does apply, however the movie additionally applies to the concept of dying basically. Like, it’s okay to say you’re not OK. It’s OK to be scared. It’s OK to not be OK on a regular basis. And that’s true in any scenario. Toward the tip, the place Amy says, “I’m OK,” and is making an attempt to be OK, that got here from my actual life. I used to be on my own, coping with one thing, and I spotted I used to be saying out loud to myself, “You’re OK, you’re OK.” And I spotted, “No, you’re obviously not okay, because if you were, you wouldn’t be saying this out loud, repetitively. And that’s OK that you’re not OK.” And immediately it alleviated the strain to be OK with every little thing. To speak within the language of restoration, acceptance and admitting that there’s an issue is step one. And that applies to so many issues, to any type of denial.
Is it essential that folks come away from this movie having realized one thing, or having new questions for themselves about nervousness or mortality? Do you need to reassure folks, or educate them, or simply get them pondering?
I might be the primary to say that I don’t need to educate anybody something, as a result of I’d be the primary to confess that I don’t know something. [Laughs] I if I needed to show, I’d be a instructor. But I might simply be a horrible instructor, as a result of I might admit to my college students on daily basis — really, I’ve taught faculty, only one class or one thing — and the very first thing I say is, “I don’t know anything, so you might as well take what you like from this, and then throw away the rest if you don’t like it. Because I don’t know more than you.” I’ve listened to lecturers the place I used to be like, “That doesn’t make any sense.” You take what you may from any instructor.
And then the opposite factor is, the way in which I needed the film to perform was on this emotional and sensory degree. I needed the movie to really feel like an expertise, and never essentially shut up free ends. But for those who actually permit the movie to take you, then you definately undergo this vary of full nervousness and laughter and humor, grownup gallows humor. The mundane moments are even essential. For me, coping with my very own private nervousness — everybody’s nervousness is completely different, however for me, it goes actually loopy and wild, and seems like I’ve acquired to resolve one thing instantly. Then I’m immediately laughing at myself, and the way indulgent I used to be about it. Then it’s again to finish silence. And then the cycle perhaps ramps again up. But I’m all the time simply left with myself. So this was a approach to give any person else the expertise of what I’ve been experiencing.
James Benning, who’s within the movie, I’ve labored with him earlier than, he makes these lovely experimental movies. And he and Thom Andersen, who teaches at CalArts, each say the extra private you get, the extra common your artwork will turn out to be. I exploit horror tropes within the movie, however even for those who’re utilizing tropes, so long as your movie is scratching to the place you truthfully are, making an attempt to specific one thing, it’s going to attain folks. Maybe there’s no approach to do that on a totally common degree, however the extra private and sincere you could be concerning the expertise, the extra folks will relate to it.
That horror angle does come throughout — this seems like a cross between the unique Suspiria and It Follows. Did you look to any particular horror movies as you have been creating your visible language right here?
Yeah! I like each of these movies, and I like David Robert Mitchell. I’ve recognized him for a really very long time, as a result of he went to Florida State as nicely. And I used to be in Myth of the American Sleepover, his first movie. I like It Follows, and was actually struck by the movie, how easy and playful that concept was. And I’ve labored a lot in horror, as an actress. I’m so immersed in it, and so conscious of the mechanisms at play. I watched so many horror films, at the same time as a child, and the factor as a filmmaker, on a technical degree, that I like a lot, that I actually needed to make the most of about horror, is the sound design and the usage of music. If you concentrate on horror movies, with out sound design, with out music, they it wouldn’t be scary. It would simply be “shot, cut to another shot.” The use of sound and music is so efficient within the expertise.
It turns into inextricable from the style itself. And you may’t get away with that sound design in a straight style. Though I say that, however then I additionally need to notice that Shirley simply did it. That movie might have been a straight style piece, however with Josephine [Decker]’s sound design, and her use of music, it’s extremely genre-bending. That’s what my love is like for horror sound design. I additionally love the tropes of style movies, the place it’s an precise dialog or contract with the viewers. They perceive the language of horror, and the ratcheting-up of pressure. I used to be utilizing these tropes, however then — I like subverting them with humor, or subverting pressure with, you understand, “Now we’re just going to cut to this very mundane moment.”
Those abrupt cuts out of scenes or conversations give the movie a very staccato rhythm that provides to the sense of unease. Was that deliberate within the script stage, or developed in enhancing?
It was a bit of little bit of a improvement course of at first. [Cinematographer] Jay Keitel and I, and [She Dies Tomorrow actress] Kate Lyn Sheil, have been exploring these concepts I had, and organically discovering what that was on the very first day of capturing. Then I edited that footage, and I spotted that what was actually efficient was going from extraordinarily subjective, very shut pictures on Kate Lyn — you’re along with her and her experiences, and it’s very sensual, however then you definately come out to a special perspective, and also you notice how loopy she seems to be. Which I discovered extremely entertaining, as a result of I do it with myself, with my very own indulgences of whether or not I’m unhappy or anxious or no matter. My mind does this — I pull myself out of it by realizing how loopy I appear, or how humorous the scenario is, if I summary myself from it.
The rhythm from that first day of capturing was like, “Okay, this is the language we’re working with, and this is how the movie is going to move, not just visually speaking, with the shot design, but also with the sound and performances.” Raising the strain, letting it hit such a pitch, after which simply dropping out like instantly. Because I feel it’s actually unsettling. Because I need the viewer to have an expertise. And as a result of it’s about nervousness, sadly — sorry, guys! — I needed it to be unsettling on many ranges. [Laughs]
Putting this film out proper now means individuals are inevitably deciphering it when it comes to the pandemic, when it comes to the transmission of illness, when it comes to free-floating nervousness and the concern and despair within the tradition. How do you’re feeling about placing this out proper now, understanding so many individuals will see it by a time-specific lens, when if it got here out like a 12 months in the past, or perhaps two years from now, folks would see it as a completely completely different piece of artwork?
Hopefully it stands the check of time, after which folks can revisit it and perceive that I didn’t predict that this was going to occur. [Laughs] It could be very attention-grabbing, however I don’t actually have a selection, about folks experiencing it this fashion. The second I completed the film, I used to be imagined to go to SXSW. This was the early phases of the pandemic reaching America and quickly unfolding. Then SXSW was canceled, it’s months later, we’re in a complete completely different relationship to the pandemic, and there’s no new regular. There’s no going again to regular.
Hopefully folks will have interaction with it, and it’ll be cathartic ultimately. But once you make films, you haven’t any concept how individuals are going to obtain them anyway. It’s like sending a child off to school: “I put so much work into you, and hopefully you go off and you do well. If you don’t, then I have to accept that as well, because you’re an adult now, and I can’t control every conversation you have with every human being.” So you do what you may once you’re constructing it, you do what you may to speak all of the concepts you’re making an attempt to instill in it. And then in some unspecified time in the future, it’s essential to ship it off. And that’s the connection with each film. This could be very surreal for me — I want I had solutions for COVID on this movie, as a result of we’d all be in a greater place.
Speaking of acceptance, that seems like the last word message of the film, that peace comes when folks settle for their nervousness and acknowledge it’s actual and painful, as a substitute of denying it. Is that finally one of many film’s key messages?
Yeah, I imply, that’s the one approach — all of the occasions I’ve gone by one thing actually tough, I all the time get to a spot the place I’m like, “It’s nothing. It just is.” It’s horrible at occasions, however there are specific stuff you undergo the place it’s a must to say, “Yes, this is horrible. But there are also so many other emotions, so many things in life.” For me, that’s what I used to be making an attempt to get to with exploring this film. You can’t management nervousness. You can’t repair it, and you’ll’t management it. So many individuals ask me, “Was it cathartic for you to make this movie?” And I’m like, “Sure, on some level, but it’s not like I made the movie and now I solved death, and I’m immortal. I still have to live with my own existential dread. It just is that way, you know?”