Film Review – The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

Title – The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

Director – André Øvredal (Troll Hunters)

Cast – Brian Cox, Emile Hirsch, Ophelia Lovibond, Olwen Kelly

Plot – Father and son coroners Tommy (Cox) and Austin Tilden (Hirsch) take on a late night autopsy job of a “Jane Doe” (Kelly), but as the two explore the cause of her death; they begin to discover that this is a job they shouldn’t have ever taken.

“I’m a bit of a traditionalist”

Review by Eddie on 29/05/2017

A high-concept horror/thriller mixed with a hearty dose of mystery that doesn’t have any right being as captivating as it is, Troll Hunter director André Øvredal delivers one of the year’s very best genre pieces with his first English language feature, The Autopsy of Jane Doe.

Set almost entirely within the confines of Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch’s family morgue and crematorium as the father and son duo take a late night job they’re going to quickly regret, as Olwen Kelly’s “Jane Doe” is wheeled into their laboratory after mysteriously appearing at a murder scene, Øvredal’s film almost instantly captivates us as Cox’s Tommy and Hirsch’s Austin begin to understand that something isn’t quite right with this particular cadaver.

To say more about Autopsy’s story would be a disservice to Øvredal and screenwriters Ian Goldberg and Richard Naing’s vision, as while the film loses small points towards the end for explaining a little too much of the mystery at hand, for a large portion of the films runtime you’ll be sitting with white knuckles and nervous anticipation at what Øvredal will throw at us next.

It would’ve been easy for Autopsy to fall quickly off the rails with an overuse of gore or cheap scares and while the film certainly isn’t for the gore adverse (there’s ample corpse exploration throughout the film) Øvredal steers mostly clear of usual genre tactics to create a genuinely unnerving experience that sinks under the skin and has a polish and professional nature that often goes wanting in other similar experiences.

Also helping Autopsy’s cause is fine central turns from legendary actor Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch, with Hirsch in particular delivering his best turn in many a moon. With Cox and Hirsch delivering the goods, Olwen Kelly as the Jane Doe corpse also brings her A-game as a lifeless corpse.

You’d be initially crazy to think someone lying on an operational table could do such fine work but Kelly brings a menacing and foreboding presence to the whole film in a performance that marks a notable example of the power of acting, without having to do very much at all, least of all speaking.

Final Say –

While its synopsis may initially suggest yet another bargain bin horror/thriller, Øvredal’s film is anything but. A smartly wound and tightly paced experience, The Autopsy of Jane Doe is one of the most notable genre films of recent times and a genuinely frightening feature that deserves a larger audience than it’s so far been afforded.

4 unfortunate house cats out of 5

9 responses to “Film Review – The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

  1. Interesting take. This one’s been popping up on my radar for a little while now, but I never pulled the trigger and watched it. I’have to check it out now. Thanks.

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