Last night I settled in to finally watch a film that I have been waiting months to see, The Autopsy of Jane Doe and it was everything I had hoped it would be.
The film opens with a father-son ending the autopsy of a burn victim which actually turned out to be an accidental death. Just as the son, Austin (Emile Hirsch), is leaving with his girlfriend the sheriff turns up with a body found mysteriously buried in the basement of two murder victims. Feeling obligated to help his father, Tommy (Brian Cox), Austin delays his date to help with the body.
As they begin the autopsy on the Jane Doe (Olwen Catherine Kelly) they start to notice strange things about her body. Not only has her tongue been ripped out, she’s been violated with a knife, and her organs look like they belong to a victim burned in a fire. But strangely, her body is spotless and she looks if she had just died. As Austin and Tommy begin to explore the digestive track they find Jimson Weed, a flower that causes paralysis. As they continue they discover a small bundle of fabric. When unfolded the old piece of linen they find the girl’s missing tooth wrapped in an old cloth with Roman numerals and letters written on it.
When the radio gets staticky and a strange song begins to play Austin tells his father that they need to leave. There is storm brewing and Austin can tell there’s something off. When the lights in the room below, the power goes out they notice the bodies in the drawers are now gone. Tommy agrees with his son, it’s time to go. As they attempt to flee they find that the cellar doors are blocked by a downed tree and the elevators won’t work with power. They are trapped. The two become terrified when the bells attached to the corpses’ ankles can be heard jingling. A glimpse of one of the dead bodies sends them into a panic. There is something supernatural happening, but why?
To find out what happens you are going to have to watch The Autopsy of Jane Doe for yourself. But I will say this: The Autopsy of Jane Doe is one of the best horror films I have seen this year. With remakes, reboots, and so many recycled ideas, we don’t get many films that are truly unique and interesting, but this film is. It is a one of a kind, dark film that will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. And the twists, wow! You will never see the ending coming which is a nice change for the predictable movies that flood the genre.
Director André Øvredal did an amazing job of bringing Ian B. Goldberg and Richard Naing’s script to life. Ophelia Lovibond and Michael McElhatton co-star alongside Brian Cox and Emile Hirsh who all did an amazing job. Adam Cobb, Stuart Ford, Matt Jackson, and Steven Squillante served as executive producers for the film.
The effects were great, especially when it came to the corpses and Jane Doe’s autopsy. The subtle makeup of Jane Doe was beautiful yet eerie. How actress Olwen Catherine Kelly stayed so perfectly still I will never know. I loved the way that Øvredal used the bodies to build and manipulate terror. While the bodies were animated we only got glimpses, which I felt was a very effective and frightening. Sometimes, less is more.
The ending was perfect for the film. They did leave The Autopsy of Jane Doe wide open for a potential sequel or prequel and I’ll be honest, I would love to see that happen.
With the perfect combination of action, tension, horror, and gore, this movie makes for great viewing experience. Honestly, I’m not sure how this movie didn’t get more hype, it should have. I was really impressed. Even though it will still be a few months before we publish our “Best of 2017” lists, I can already tell you it has earned a spot as one of the “Best Movies of 2017”.
The good news is that The Autopsy of Jane Doe is now out on Digital HD and DVD from IFC Midnight. I recommend that you watch it immediately.