Review: Short film conveys big emotions

Alison Bair, Staff Writer

Recently I dusted off my Letterboxd app. I wouldn’t consider myself a movie buff in the slightest, but I am able to enjoy true cinematic masterpieces (of course, this excludes any of Tarantino’s movies). 

Part of me wanted to go with something in the horror or thriller genre. ‘Tis the season. Then I was thinking, ‘What’s the most pretentious-sounding genre I can choose? What movie will make me sound like I know what I’m talking about?’ Thus, hours of digging through movies I wanted to watch and rewatch ensued. 

What I stumbled upon was a 13-minute short film. I had time to watch something that short. Just test the waters. It wasn’t a huge time commitment. So I watched it.

“Sometimes, I Think About Dying” is a 2019 Sundance short film directed by Stefanie Abel Horowitz featuring Katy Wright-Mead and Jim Sarbh. Wright-Mead plays the scrappy, depressed Fran, who sometimes thinks about dying. This is when Robert, the coworker and love interest, comes in and shows Fran how much he values her and cares about her. 

The message of the story is uncomfortable yet painfully simple. It’s hard to believe people genuinely love you when you’re depressed. And I fully agree.

The beginning of the film starts with her reminding herself that she exists, zooming in from the center of the universe. Her thoughts are simple. They are dark. They are intrusive, and although she may never act upon those thoughts, they are still there, still repeating and buzzing around in her head on an endless loop. Less than a minute in, I could fully understand and relate to Fran. I exist. But do I really want to? 

She has little confidence and seems to be running on autopilot a lot. Many of her interactions are awkward and needlessly stressful. I felt relieved that someone could not only write a script this way but also perfectly portray such a person that felt as tense and awkward as I am, and I’m sure many people will feel the same.

When Fran goes on her first date with Robert, the thoughts of death temporarily pause. He is all she is thinking about – his clothes and the way he smells – instead of what the bugs feasting on her would feel like if she died.

Robert becomes a temporary release of this anxiety until the next day at work. Fran fumbles her words and accidentally acts as if nothing happened between them. After he walks away, she is thrown back into these dark thoughts of death and how she would be better off dead.

This is what my social anxiety is like. Even with the closest people, if I don’t say the right thing on my first try, I want to vanish. It seems like the people I care so much for hate me now, they think so little of me, I’m a terrible person, nobody wants me here anyway.

In the depth of her darkest thoughts, Robert texts her. He wants to go on a weekend trip with her. Again, she is pulled away from her dark thoughts in the solace of a single person, even if it’s just for a moment. Instead, she is focused on the potential between them and the tension between them. Then the thoughts come back, as if the sparkles she saw on Robert dulled and the light she saw in him faded. 

Even in the comfort of this person she finds herself attached to, she can’t get rid of the thoughts. The people she finds comfort in do little to quell the darkness. Everyone knows these thoughts aren’t normal, they aren’t wanted. They’re invasive and plague your mind every day when you’re depressed or anxious or simply going about your day. 

The scene that made me decide I would review this short film is the final one. My heart broke from relatability.

“It’s my birthday,” Robert says.

“You wanted to spend it with me?” Fran replies in disbelief, shocked.



A devastating blow to show how low her self-esteem is. A scene with so few words in which Wright-Mead portrays so much emotion, you know exactly what’s going through her mind when she starts crying. The shame she feels for voicing it, the struggle that is finally portrayed. Why would anyone want to be with someone who wanted to die? Why her? Why would anyone want to choose her? There are better people out there. Happier people. Less messed up. So why her?

The short film is not a happy one, yet it feels like a safe space. I highly encourage everyone to watch it, especially if you’re looking to feel anything. While Sarbh’s acting is nothing to write home about, Wright-Mead knocks it out of the ballpark as the main character. Stefanie Abel Horowitz directs a fantastic film that many people will be able to connect with.