She Dies Tomorrow writer-director Amy Seimetz wanted to be sure her film mixed the big questions about life and death with the gallows humor that has made her laugh the hardest.
The film is about a woman named Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil ) who is certain she will die in a day. When she tells her friend Jane (Jane Adams), the anxiety begins to spread, until more people are seized by fear of their lives being extinguished.
As Seimetz sees it, even our existence is dark comedy: “What a cruel joke to us that we’re born and that we all die,” she tells Eric Steuer in the latest MovieMaker Interviews podcast, available on Apple or Spotify or above.
The theme of facing your own mortality is a longtime fascination for Seimetz, whose 2012 feature directorial debut, Sun Don’t Shine, was inspired by moving back to her home state of Florida to care for her terminally ill father.
“The moments that I’ve laughed the hardest are sort of in the darkest hour, because my emotions are so high and the juxtaposition of something sort of absurd happening in such a dark period of time becomes quite comical in a very intense way. So it was important to me in exploring this, like it felt dishonest to not include humor in it,” Seimetz said.
One of the absurdities of the film is Amy’s desire to be useful after she dies — perhaps by being turned into a jacket. It was inspired by dark jokes she made with her sister while dealing with the painful question of her father’s arrangements.
“There’s the overwhelming loss and grief and sort of like, ‘Wow, death, what does it mean? Is it finite? Or did they pass on?’ These bigger ideas,” she explains. “But then there’s the very crass and very real aspect of it: ‘What do you do with the body?'”
She continues: “I was making jokes to my sister, and I was like, ‘What if we turn him into fireworks? … Let’s make diamonds out of Dad.'”
Seimetz, also well-known as an actress known for roles in Pet Sematary and Alien: Covenant, among other films, self-funded She Dies Tomorrow, shot it in her own home, and relied on a trusted team of collaborators so she wouldn’t have to justify her approach to an outsider — or make concessions based on traditional expectations for the horror genre.
“I’m not making straight comedies just like I’m not making straight horror,” she says. “I didn’t want to have to answer questions about what it was going to be. … I was the only person that I was answering to.”
She Dies Tomorrow, written and directed by Amy Seimetz, is now available on demand.