26th Jun2017

‘The Autopsy of Jane Doe’ DVD Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Brian Cox, Emile Hirsch, Olwen Kelly, Ophelia Lovibond | Written by Ian Goldberg, Richard Naing | Directed by Andre Ovredal


Horror is a genre that relies on word of mouth when it comes to finding the good films. We tend to get the big Hollywood releases that are fairly generic with their scares, then something like The Autopsy of Jane Doe comes around that breathes a bit of life into the world of the movie undead.

When a homicide victim is brought into their morgue, Tommy (Brian Cox) and his son Austin (Emile Hirsch) begin the autopsy of the body. Cutting into the body of “Jane Doe” (Olwen Kelly) they soon discover that she may be holding a few secrets under her skin.

The Autopsy of Jane Doe is effective because of its build up. We witness the discovery of Jane Doe’s body, which raises questions already, but then we get to the morgue. The setup of the morgue is that the Tommy and Austin are working through the night, and an approaching storm is going to close them in. That along with the bodies already stored there make for a creepy atmosphere, especially when the morgue is in the basement.

Not only is the setting creepy, but we are also given a few details about the dead bodies, including the use of bells on their toes to make sure they are dead. Foretelling what is to come, it is that planting of knowledge into the audience that builds up a sense of foreboding. It is the balance between the unknown and known that finds that perfect balance of knowledge for those watching, to trap them into what is to come.

The concept of Jane Doe herself is also interesting, and the way we the audience learn about her secrets is well done. We are a voyeur to the autopsy, and as the morticians record the details they find, we learn the same details. It is through the narrative created by the autopsy that we are trapped with Tommy and Austin, and have to witness the scares that await them.

One thing that The Autopsy of Jane Doe does risk is treading on a common ground, it does use history we’ve heard before, and seen in many horror films. Thankfully though, it actually works for this film, and in many ways, we end up empathising with what Jane Doe has been through. We may not want her to take out her vengeance on Tommy and Austin, who are innocent of the crimes, but we can understand why she is doing it.

Looking at the performances, Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch play their parts well. You do have to wonder though, does Emile Hirsch ever age? You also have to admire Jane Doe herself, Olwen Kelly, who may not show any movement or life at all, but still manages to become an iconic horror film monster with an interesting backstory.

Fans of horror should make sure that The Autopsy of Jane Doe is on their must-see list. An atmospheric chiller that sets up an effective and creepy experience… For those looking for a good genre movie, this definitely fits that bill.

***** 5/5

The Autopsy of Jane Doe is available on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK now. Click the link to check out Rupert’s review of The Autopsy of Jane Doe.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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