Thanks to limitless Zoom calls with colleagues and the home-broadcasting of celebrities across the globe, lockdown has made inside decor voyeurs of us all. Within the case of actor-director Amy Seimetz, nevertheless, it’s not simply her front room wallpaper that’s made its approach into the general public realm. Like many, I’ve turn into intimately acquainted with virtually each nook and cranny of her compact, pleasingly impartial LA abode (when she briefly pauses our chat to let the plumber in, I can visualise her entrance door in my head, clear as day). For as soon as, the weirdness isn’t pandemic-related – it’s as a result of Seimetz’s home doubles because the set of her new movie, She Dies Tomorrow, a psychological horror about nervousness, contagion and our relationship with our personal mortality.
When you assume taking pictures a horror movie in your own home and subsequently being trapped there alone for months on finish throughout a world pandemic might need disturbing knock-on results, assume once more. “Through film-making I learned to love my house!” says Seimetz, who claims that previous to the shoot she “didn’t know what to do with” her new residence. “Because I treat atmosphere in my movies like a character, the house now is a living being to me. It’s not just that I love the house, I feel like the house loves me.” She pauses. “I don’t really, I’m not crazy. Or maybe a little bit.”
It’s not simply the set that hints at She Dies Tomorrow’s autobiographical overtones: the movie’s protagonist, performed by Kate Lyn Sheil, can be known as Amy. After we encounter her, she has been hit with the unshakeable conviction that she is destined, as per the title, to die the next day. Craving human contact, she confides in her pal Jane (Jane Adams), however the feeling seems to own viral properties – quickly different members of the pair’s social community are grappling with the knowledge of their impending demise. It’s a intelligent approach for Seimetz to dramatise her personal nervousness – and Sheil’s efficiency is amongst cinema’s most evocative manifestations of the way it truly feels to have a panic assault.
An early casualty of the lockdown, She Dies Tomorrow was speculated to premiere at Austin’s South by Southwest pageant in March; now it’s receiving a belated digital launch. But slightly than diluting its influence, the pandemic has solely intensified the curiosity within the 38-year-old’s second characteristic (2012’s Solar Don’t Shine was a twisted road-trip film additionally starring Sheil). It has been dubbed “The First Covid-era Thriller” by Indiewire and “2020: The Movie” (NPR). How does Seimetz really feel about having such a private undertaking commandeered by an unexpected world disaster? “I have no choice,” she laughs. “I guess I have to be OK with it?”
Seimetz needn’t fear an excessive amount of about her movie being remembered as some type of coronavirus tie-in: humanity’s refusal to just accept demise is a matter unlikely to be resolved any time quickly. And regardless of the ominous atmosphere, She Dies Tomorrow is much from a downer – partly as a result of Seimetz was eager to harness the humour inherent in nervousness issues. “When I’m having a panic attack, there’s the storm that’s happening inside me, that feels so important and massive and scary. But if you popped out and saw what I looked like, it would just be me letting the sink run and staring out the window. It’s simultaneously funny and disturbing. I love that tension.”
The laughs don’t finish there. We scoff at Amy’s declare she is going to die tomorrow (so melodramatic!), in addition to her resolution to spend her last hours Googling urns, however we additionally observe the ridiculousness of different individuals’s livid rejection of the likelihood that the subsequent day would possibly, actually, be her final. In spite of everything, it should occur tomorrow – at some point.
“Society is built on denial of death,” says Seimetz, with the sprightliness she brings to even essentially the most morbid of conversational subjects. “In order to get things done, people have to constantly deny their own mortality. Freud’s theory is that mental illness is the inability to deny death and these people go mad because they can’t ignore death. Why are we chit-chatting? Why are we ignoring this massive thing?” Her chosen style was all the time going to be essentially the most appropriate car for such intense and summary psychodrama. “Horror is always about the fear of dying,” she notes. “It’s about running from death, essentially.” It’s a style that she’s discovered herself more and more entwined with professionally – big-budget scary films Alien: Covenant and 2019’s Pet Sematary are each on her performing CV – however the Florida native has been a connoisseur for a very long time. “I grew up in the 80s so my entire childhood was wall-to-wall horror movies.”
Most of her underage cinematic consumption didn’t go away her too shaken, however the “fear of somebody watching you when you don’t know they’re watching you” has stayed together with her. “The scariest thing to me is, you’re just going along with your day and they’re suddenly hunting you.”
I’m advised to not point out the restraining order Seimetz was not too long ago granted towards her ex-partner, film-maker Shane Carruth (Primer, Upstream Shade), following years of alleged abuse. However a number of the threatening messages he despatched her are within the public area, and their contents give the horror tropes she describes, in addition to the plot of her movie, a brand new layer of significance.
Just lately, Seimetz posted a screenshot of her mom’s evaluate of She Dies Tomorrow, which learn: “This is a weird ass movie Amy.” Seimetz laughs at her directness. “It was such a mom reaction. She cannot bite her tongue, which is hilarious. But we had a lovely conversation after she finished watching it – she was like: ‘I see how personal this is, and it shakes me.’”
Making a movie with such devastating subtext can’t have been straightforward, however the director discovered solace within the tight-knit forged and crew. “The funny meta-ness of it is that in real life when I feel anxious [the film’s leads] Kate and Jane are who I call to talk about it.” This sense of group is deeply ingrained within the output of Seimetz, who discovered her toes within the impartial movie scene that orbited round Florida State College within the mid-00s (notable gamers included Moonlight director Barry Jenkins).
Within the shadow of the pandemic, some have been sounding the alarm almost about the long run well being of indie cinema. Whereas Seimetz is sanguine about her personal DIY strategy’s possibilities – “we did She Dies Tomorrow with such minimal crew, so there’s a way to safely social distance while you’re making it” – she’s involved about mid-budget films, which may’t “be as nimble as the smaller things but they don’t have the money to support the protocols.”
It’s one thing she has been discussing together with her pal Steven Soderbergh, whose delayed thriller Kill Change she is about to characteristic in (Seimetz was additionally co-creator of the TV spin-off of his movie The Girlfriend Expertise). “Because he made Contagion, he knows epidemiologists who are at the top of their game, so he’s been in communication with them, in terms of what would be the safest work environment. There isn’t necessarily a [regulatory] body, so it takes somebody like Soderbergh to really figure stuff like this out – he’s as interested in solving how we go back in a safe way as he is in making the movie, it’s just his personality.”
Till Soderbergh works out the right way to single-handedly save Hollywood from collapse, movie units should wait. Within the meantime, Seimetz has inadvertently already finished the work of essentially the most expedient post-pandemic horror. Simply don’t look forward to finding any consolation from this haunting wrangle with everlasting relaxation. “I’m still very afraid of death!” Seimetz says with fun, once I ask whether or not making the movie has been cathartic. She will be able to take solace in the truth that she’s not alone in that.
She Dies Tomorrow is obtainable from Friday 28 August