January 21, 2017

Movie Review: The Autopsy of Jane Doe

Movies that come with a considerable amount of hype always run the risk of disappointing, of letting someone down after the buildup. It is always a fear of mine, I may listen to some of it, but I try not to get too wrapped up in said hype for fear of letting it sway my actual feelings about any given film. The Autopsy of Jane Doe is the latest film to arrive with a lot of hype and positive buzz around it. Friends messaged me asking if I’d seen it, positive comments on social media, even Stephen King is singing its praises. So, while I was anxious to see it, I went in trying to keep myself in check, just in case.

Now, fearing becoming a part of the hype machine, The Autopsy of Jane Doe is pretty phenomenal. It is immediately involving, interesting on a variety of levels, and held my attention throughout. This is a beautifully made film that boasts emotional involvement as well as frights and a more technical interest, if that makes sense. I was curious about the origins of Jane Doe, as well as everything that goes along with her. On top of that, our morticians’ are not without their interesting elements as well. They combine and blend into a fascinating melange that fascinated until the end.

The Autopsy of Jane Doe was directed by Andre Ovredal. Hailing from Norway, he made a splash a few years ago with the found footage film Trollhunter. While that was a good film, this, his English language debut, is far and away the better film. His direction, combined with the cinematography of Roman Osin (Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium), make for one really great looking and well shot film. The screenplay was written by Ian Goldberg (Once Upon a Time) and Richard Naing, and the result covers some very different ground, but melds it all into one interesting product.

The film centers on a father and son mortician team (Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch) who receive a dead woman’s body, the titular Jane Doe, and the job of finding out what killed her. This search takes up the first half of the film as they begin their examination and puzzle over the lack of overt evidence as to the cause of death. It is interesting to watch them work as the father has a much more analytical approach than the son, leading them to clash a little in their methods. Still, it is fascinating to watch them go deeper and deeper, quite literally into this corpse looking for answers. This is when things start happening.

The Autopsy of Jane Doe begins as more of a mystery/thriller before moving into more supernatural/horror mode. Both halves work in different ways and it is interesting to watch the progression and how our characters react to the situation. Also, while there is a lot said, there is a lot left for interpretation as to what exactly happens and why they act the way they do.

This is one involving movie with some great practical effects, interesting personalities, some effective jump scares, and an interesting mystery. No, it is not a perfect movie, but the issues pale next to the effectiveness of the chills throughout. This is certainly a well made horror film that is deserving of all the positive buzz surrounding it. I have no problem at all recommending spending a little time in this autopsy room.

Highly Recommended.

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