It all begins with a dead body of a woman. A woman know one knows. A “Jane Doe.” The mystery surrounding this corpse is given to a local coroner Tommy Tilden and his son Austin. With the skills they possess, this family team will investigate and learn what killed our lovely Jane. But are our detectives of death prepared for the horror coming from this lifeless enigma?
The Autopsy of Jane Doe was directed by André Øvredal and stars Emile Hirsch, Brian Cox (Trick r’ Treat baby!) and Olwen Kelly.
I first saw the trailer for The Autopsy of Jane Doe way before it was released. It looked appealing and I marked it down for a “must watch.” But I kind of forgot about it being out there and didn’t see it for about a year. The movie was never released into major theaters (a terrible thing that happens to a lot of great horror films) so I kind of lost track of it. After finally watching this I instantly fell in love with it. Next to The Void, this might be one of my favorite films of 2016.
Hirsch and Cox make an insanely cohesive pair on screen. I love the relationship they have and it drives the movie along very well. It’s a real father & son relationship. Being together but never truly expressing deep seeded feelings of bond-ship and love. But you see and you feel it. They’re the heart of the film. They’ve gone through a loss of their wife/mother and are supporting each other the best they can. Austin truly loves his father and is struggling to do what all kids eventually do, move on to build his own life. He doesn’t want to leave his dad and he’s concerned about his dad being alone. Tommy loves his son and cherishes him not only as a son, but as a deeper symbol.
Huge thumbs up to Olwen Kelly who plays our Jane Doe. She literally has no lines in the film… cause she’s dead. But from what I read, she practiced yoga to prepare her body for the lifeless presence she needed to be. I love that kind of commitment because her lifeless face and body is an extremely creepy thing in this film. I don’t think playing “dead” is actually as easy as we would assume and Kelly “kills” it.
Autopsy delivers on the tone and pacing of the film. The entire building where Tommy & Austin do these autopsies is dark and old. Just walking down the hallway of the premises would freak me out beyond belief. Just knowing there are lots of stiffs cooling in freezers would get me nervous. But walking down a poorly lit hallway sends shivers down my spine. I thought the movie moved along nicely. There are no overly lengthy scenes of overused horror. The terror is timed nicely and done with purpose. Øvredal doesn’t try to cheapen the film with sudden startles but with low menacing scenes that have tremendous build up. In fact the scary parts of the movie are so good that I found myself wanting to see more.
The movie is horror but it’s a mystery as well. The entire time Tommy & Austin are conducting this autopsy, the trail of discovery seems to get farther and farther. More complex, riddled with questions and it gives the viewer a sense of ‘STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING!’ I love that feeling and it heightens the sense of dread and the ‘holy crap’ feeling of the story. You’re on this ride and all you want is for the elevator to work! “PLEASE WORK! PLEEEEAAAAAASSSSSSE! Oh wait, why does this body have this mark on it?”
I love this movie and I think it deserves high praise. It’s well shot and you can tell it was directed with actual ideas and clear vision. It didn’t have market research tool bags sticking their greasy dirty fingers into it like most films. It was terrifying and has a leveled display of gore. It doesn’t overkill the carnage like the terrible Saw franchise. There’s an equilibrium to the blood. It’s contained and not exaggerated. It’s enough to create panic driven horror and still kept you on board with the appeal of the mystery.
Although the ending was a little anti-climactic, it does seem logical for the step it took. Sometimes the most terrifying evil is the evil that keeps striving. The evil that has no remorse and cannot be stopped. There is no victory for good in this story.
Please watch The Autopsy of Jane Doe. Do it now. Go! At the end of this review just check the film out. Forget your job or whatever you’re doing. If you’re a doctor put the knife down and stop the heart transplant. If you’re a lawyer, say “he did it” and get out of the court room. If you’re a cop, let everyone drive as fast as they want and go home. Quit what you’re doing and check this film out.