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Movie 'She Dies Tomorrow' Reviewed

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Movies generally take a couple years to get from concept to screen, so when a film seems timely, that's almost always a matter of luck. Critic Bob Mondello says, by that measure, the film "She Dies Tomorrow" is very lucky.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: Amy has just bought a house and has been getting her life together - or so her pal Jane thought, until Amy says she wants to be made into a leather jacket when she dies tomorrow.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SHE DIES TOMORROW")

KATE LYN SHEIL: (As Amy) I want to be useful in death.

JANE ADAMS: (As Jane) Here. Drink that.

SHEIL: (As Amy) I don't want that.

ADAMS: (As Jane) You are going to die if you keep relapsing.

SHEIL: (As Amy) That's not what's happening.

MONDELLO: To be clear, Amy is not sick or suicidal or even particularly depressed. She's just possessed by an absolute certainty.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SHE DIES TOMORROW")

SHEIL: (As Amy) I am kind going to die tomorrow.

ADAMS: (As Jane) I can't sit here and watch you get wasted. I am going to leave. And you are going to call me tomorrow.

SHEIL: (As Amy) There is no tomorrow for me.

MONDELLO: Jane goes home. But within the hour, she is doing the calling because whatever Amy's got...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SHE DIES TOMORROW")

ADAMS: (As Jane) Yeah, hi...

MONDELLO: ...It's catchy.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SHE DIES TOMORROW")

ADAMS: (As Jane) I feel like you put this idea of dying in my head, and now I'm paranoid. And you're not calling me back.

MONDELLO: Feelings of mortality spread by physical proximity. Talk about capturing the moment. Capturing it, let's note, with moody atmospherics, hallucinatory flashes of color, unsettling editing and surprisingly often humor, as when Jane shows up at her sister-in-law's birthday celebration.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SHE DIES TOMORROW")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) Hey. I thought you weren't coming.

ADAMS: (As Jane) No, but then I decided to come.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) You're wearing your pajamas.

ADAMS: (As Jane) Yes. Well, they're floral.

MONDELLO: Yes, well, she's rattled. And by the time she leaves, the party guests are rattled too. Imagine how rattled filmmaker Amy Seimetz must have been when she realized that to reach audiences, her movie about existential dread gone viral would have to overcome existential dread of a virus.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SHE DIES TOMORROW")

ADAMS: (As Jane) Going to happen for me.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) You don't know that.

ADAMS: (As Jane) Yeah, I do, just like I know if I drop this, it's going to break.

(SOUNDBITE OF GLASS BREAKING)

MONDELLO: Seimetz knows from broken when it comes to movies. Her only previous feature won an IndieWire Critics Poll for Best Undistributed Film a few years back. She brought this one to South by Southwest in March hoping to find a distributor, only to have its premiere canceled with the rest of the festival. The universe laughing? Well, if so, the filmmaker gets the last laugh. You can't watch "She Dies Tomorrow" in drive-ins this weekend and streaming next without experiencing an anxiety that bleeds right into the anxiety we're all feeling these days about a plague that spreads from person to person when you get too close, and about fear that festers when you're alone with your thoughts, as all of us increasingly are. I'm Bob Mondello. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.