FILM REVIEW: THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE
Director: André Øvredal
Writers: Ian B. Goldberg, Richard Naing
Starring: Brian Cox, Emile Hirsch, Olwen Catherine Kelly, Ophelia Lovibond, Michael McElhatton, Jane Perry, Parker Sawyers, Stanley The Cat
Where to see it right now: Stream on Netflix
Released: December 21, 2016
★☆☆☆☆=waste of time
★★☆☆☆=a time waster
A multi layer examination of fear that works perfectly on its viewers nerves
Norwegian film director André Øvredal (Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark) creates an almost-perfect, truly frightening scary movie with his careful handling in The Autopsy of Jane Doe.
Tommy and Austin (Brian Cox, Emile Hirsch), a father/son duo consisting of coroner and mortician, receive a late evening dispatch of an unidentified body from a curious crime scene. Town Sheriff Burke (Michael McElhatton) requests that the team complete an emergency autopsy so that he can report a cause of death in the morning press briefing. Teetering on twilight, The Autopsy of Jane Doe begins.
As the multi layer examination commences the physical uncovers that while the corpse of Jane Doe (Olwen Catherine Kelly) is immaculately preserved, the internal system presents with multiple fractured bones, eyes that are greyed-over, a missing molar and a missing tongue. All of these signs are indicative that the corpse should appear bruised and bludgeoned on the outside. During the exam, incidental and strange supernatural occurrences begin to happen in the embalming room.
The second phase of the examination; the internal evaluation, produces unnerving results when ritualistic items are discovered inside the digestive organs. The missing molar, a shroud with unknown symbols on it and more are recovered from inside Jane Doe’s perfectly preserved body. Further questions arise when the internal organs appear burned and scarred with no indication the body had been altered on the outside. The discovery coincides with supernatural experiences becoming stronger and more dangerous in the mortuary, culminating in the first of several creepy encounters.
Øvredal’s execution of the autopsy is done with utmost respect throughout the film. Even the explicitly gory scenes are carefully handled. In doing so, Øvredal dreams up an exceedingly eerie atmosphere formed in reality compared to the many low budget horror movies who otherwise would treat the detail with abandon. When the supernatural events become fully realized, the contrast is that much more defined, creating a truly scary experience.
The cast of The Autopsy of Jane Doe is stellar. Brian Cox (HBO’s Succession) is at his best as is Emile Hirsch (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Into The Wild). The casting, the set design, the lighting and sound all contribute to make this one hell of a scary film, truly worthy of a watch.