The Autopsy of Jane Doe

12/19/2019 06:25

Film: The Autopsy of Jane Doe

Year: 2016

Director: André Øvredal

Writer: Ian B. Goldberg and Richard Naing

Starring: Brian Cox, Emile Hirsch and Ophelia Lovibond



This film I had heard a lot about and had been on a list for me to see. Stephen King, who is my favorite author, gave it a resounding endorsement and I have some of the podcasts that I listen to have shows on it. That was the reason I sought this out. I’m updating this after a second viewing, as I kept speaking highly of it and wanted to show Jaime. The synopsis is a father and son, both coroners, are pulled in a complex mystery while attempting to identify the body of a young woman, who was apparently harboring dark secrets.

We start off at a crime scene. We have Sheriff Burke (Michael McElhatton) going room to room as we see this horrific scene. There are bodies and blood everywhere. He gets a call and goes to the basement. There he meets with a Lieutenant Wade (Jane Perry). A body has been dug up in the basement they’re dubbing Jane Doe (Olwen Catherine Kelly) as they’re not sure of her identity. They need answers to what happened to her, but we learn that it seems that no one broke in, everyone was trying to get out. It doesn’t help that the news is there as well.

We then meet the local coroner, Tommy (Brian Cox). He works with his son, Austin (Emile Hirsch), who is a licensed medical examiner as well. They go over a body of a burned man and we see that Tommy is very good at what he does. Austin knows his stuff, but he still doesn’t have the eye yet. He also seems to take the easiest answer. They finish up and Austin is spooked by his girlfriend Emma (Ophelia Lovibond). She wants to see what Austin does and Tommy shows up to encourage it. He ends up scaring her with a bell that is tied to the ankle of one of the bodies.

The couple goes to leave when Sheriff Burke shows up with the body of Jane Doe. Austin breaks plans with Emma, stating that his father needs him. She’s upset, because he hasn’t told his father yet that he doesn’t want to do this for the rest of his life. She allows him to stay and will come back later so they can go out.

We learn that Tommy has dedicated his life to this and his wife, who has passed away, wasn’t happy. He carries this grief with him and Austin knows it too. He tells Austin that he doesn’t have to stay to help, but Austin committed, especially with the urgency of this case.

They soon realize that there is something not quite right with the body. On the outside there’s no cause of death. They find her wrists and ankles are smashed, her waist is much too small to be natural and her eyes are clouded over. There is no rigor mortis. As they start to delve deeper into the autopsy of this unknown woman, the clues become stranger and stranger. There is also something supernatural presence. These two men are in for a night they did not expect when a storm suddenly appears, trapping them inside.

I want to lead off stating that I’m glad I saw it. I didn’t see a trailer for this one, so I came in excited but blind. I loved the concept of the film. We have a body that is brought in, there are no signs of what killed her on the outside, but the more they cut into her and look, they see that a lot of terrible things happened to her. It doesn’t make sense and that makes the mystery even better.

What I also really liked was that you can feel the tension building with each new clue or supernatural thing that happens. I could feel my anxiety going up and I wasn’t disappointed by that at all. This film is very well written. I thought the editing of the film was good. The running time is perfect and it builds tension throughout. That doesn’t always mean there is something going on constantly, because it doesn’t need that. It has its lulls that allow us to breath, but they aren’t boring. Something is still happening to build toward the end which I was a big fan of. Going along with this though, the claustrophobia of where they are helps to that and it is aged. You can believe that their elevator out could break or that the tree did fall to trap them inside.

What makes this even better was that the acting was just as good as the writing. Cox and Hirsch were great together. I have seen both of them in a lot of other things and just seeing them together I knew this film was going got be good. Hirsch doesn’t do a whole lot, but when he does he definitely picks films that he can showcase his abilities. There’s a scene where the two of them are trapped in an elevator. What they talk about doesn’t have a lot to do with the story, but seeing them go back and forth was great. I also need to give props to Kelly. I’m not entirely sure what they did with her or what she had to do, but she is completely nude at some point for the prep of the film. She doesn’t have to do anything, but lie there yet it was extremely creepy. The supporting cast I thought did well for what they needed to do.

Next I want to touch on the supernatural aspects of the film. This one does a great job at using what look to be a combination of practical effects and CGI. There are some other corpses in this film that come to life and for the most part they are done with make-up. They look great, but the film also was strategic in its use of shadows and only giving us a glimpse. Our imaginations at times can be scarier than what we actually see and this film utilizes that. There is a scene with computer generated fire that I wasn’t a big fan of, but it is short and at the end of it, it makes sense why the fire did what it did.

I also loved the soundtrack to the film. We get a recurring song that you know something bad is going to happen. We also get the radio to act funny during these times and sets the stage as to what is happening outside which I thought were great ideas. Really helped to build the tension we get here. There’s also a song that keeps playing that is a reference to Tommy and his deceased wife. That just adds a creepy vibe there. On top of that though, we get like a bell and it ties back to something we learn earlier. There is ambient sounds that help to drive the tension for sure.

Now with that said, I would recommend seeing this film. It has a simple plot to it, but the complexity comes from the autopsy itself. It doesn’t make sense how she dies at first, yet the more they uncover, the more tension it builds. This film is very well written. The acting is amazing from the two stars. The anxiety of what is happening builds to an amazing ending in my opinion. I thought the editing was good, the effects are solid and the soundtrack fits well as to what is happening. This is a supernatural thriller, so keep that in mind, but I definitely recommend giving this one a viewing.


My Rating: 9 out of 10