DIRECTOR: André Øvredal
Ian B. Goldberg
Olwen Catherine Kelly
Tommy and Austin Tilden are a father and son team who own their very own coroner and funeral home business. Late one evening, the local sheriff brings in the body of a mysterious homicide victim known as Jane Doe. With no apparent cause of death, the two men begin to perform an autopsy on the body. The more that they delve into the cause of death, the more they realise that something much darker and sinister is at play with this victim.
Listening to one of my recent horror movie podcasts, The discussion turned to a film called The Autopsy Of Jane Doe. All the fine folks that were taking part in the podcast started to rave about the film. They talked about how the film debuted at a few horror film festivals, and people who got to witness the movie were floored by how scary and original this movie turned out. As I listened to the guy's heap praise upon the movie, I was wondering was this another case of hype?
When I finally got to sit down and watch The Autopsy Of Jane Doe, I won't deny that I was a little worried that I may end up not enjoying the movie. I was concerned that I may have hyped this movie up based on all the great word of mouth that I had heard about it. I think I realised at about the twenty minutes mark that I was going to love this film. For the rest of the running time, I was absolutely glued to the screen while watching The Autopsy Of Jane Doe.
The winning element of The Autopsy Of Jane Doe is the character development. The premise revolves around these three main characters, Tommy and Austin who are our father and son and Jane Doe the mysterious victim. It was incredibly refreshing to sit through a story where this father and son genuinely care for one another. This movie throws away any chance at fractured relationships or infighting to have a story that is just about a family. I loved watching these two characters stick together through all the craziness that happens in the film.
The characters are brought to life with two fantastic performances by the great Brian Cox and Emile Hirsh. Brian Cox plays Tommy, a coroner who is still running his family business after the death of his wife. The fact that he has still yet to be nominated for an Oscar boggles my mind. Just a fantastic actor who is underappreciated in this guys opinion. Emile Hirsh plays Austin, he is there every single step of the way. I loved the dynamic between the two actors. I believed they are father and son.
Now we come to the third performance. Olwen Catherine Kelly plays Jane Doe. While not a performance with any dialogue and she is just a corpse, it's a creepy and brave performance none the less. I say brave because she spends the entire film naked and on a slab. It must take a lot of bravery to be that vulnerable on film, to lay everything out there. In just that vacant look of death, I still felt for the character during the first and second acts. I can't wait to see what she does in future with a role that requires her to speak.
The entire mystery and twist at the heart of The Autopsy Of Jane Doe is an incredibly creepy one. To mention anything about the reveal in this review would likely ruin the film for anyone that reads it. When the reveal eventually happens, I did not see this one coming myself. So for me, I was floored by the entire movie. I had a jaw on the floor moment. I thought the unravelling and reveal was one of the greatest and most original ones I've seen in a horror film all year.
The Autopsy Of Jane Doe opens with an incredibly unsettling and bloody crime scene. From the very first frame right up until the last, this is a movie that is drenched with a feeling of dread. The movie on more than one occasion successfully ramps up the tension beyond the breaking point. There is one moment where a dead body and bell is used so efficiently, that I was on the edge of my seat, sweating. This is a film that strives on building tension over loud noises and jump scares and is very successful.
When it comes to the gore, The Autopsy Of Jane Doe does not disappoint. The movie delivers some genuinely outstanding violence. These moments are mostly during the autopsy scenes. In these scenes, I found myself more enthralled than anything else by what was being shown on the screen. I found myself very interested in the whole process of performing an autopsy. I wonder if Brian Cox and Emile Hirsh had to watch or learn the process as these scenes are very methodical.
Visually, I think The Autopsy Of Jane Doe is a gorgeous looking film in a very morbid kind of way. This flick is slick and uses its funeral home location to perfection. For a movie that spends most of its time in the basement of a mortuary, every shot looked well done. From the spinning camera in the opening scene to the third act onslaught, the cinematography was some of the best I've seen in a horror movie in 2016. The camera angles and set-ups were all very well done.
DEATH TOLL: 8
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A gruesome and bloody crime scene.
- A burnt corpse is seen on a slab.
- Ribs being cut open with bolt cutters.
- A brain being removed during an autopsy.
- A corpse is shown with its tongue removed.
- Gruesome autopsy scene.
- A cat's neck is snapped.
- A body is set on fire.
- Someone has their head smashed into a mirror.
- A woman is hit in the chest with an axe.
- Someone is stabbed in the heart.
- A person falls to their death.
The Autopsy Of Jane Doe is an extremely intelligent, creepy, and incredibly gory little horror movie. The twist that comes in halfway through is also fantastic. The movie is successful in building tension, suspense, and had me on the edge of my seat for most of the running time. The movie also features two excellent turns from Brian Cox and Emile Hirsh. I think in time, this will be destined to be a masterpiece.