Everybody has a Secret
The Autopsy of Jane Doe was the final new horror flick I watched in 2016. I wasn’t able to get to every horror movie that 2016 brought us. There were too many great ones and just not enough time. But I am so glad I took the time to watch this little gem before the year was over.
The Autopsy of Jane Doe felt more like a mystery at times than a true horror movie, but it does fall solidly into the horror category. There are jump scares galore, creepy music, lightning and thunder, murder, horrible reflections in a mirror, supernatural happenings, dead bodies, lots of blood and an actual autopsy.
So, what is the movie about?
A pristine body of a nude girl, soon to be named Jane Doe (played bravely by Olwen Catherine Kelly), is discovered at the scene of a grisly triple murder. When one of the officers mentions that the other bodies look like they weren’t trying to break in, that they were trying to get out, it was impossible not to get the shivers. Realizing that somehow this girl’s body had something to do with their deaths put me immediately on the edge of my horror loving seat. So, off the body goes to the local morgue!
Next, we’re going to get to watch a coroner’s examination and be a partner to the forensic process. How cool is that? The goal of our father and son coroner team (Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch) was first and foremost the COD or cause of death. That was what lead coroner Tommy Tilden kept reminding his son, Austin. They were just there to determine the reason she died, the police could figure out the rest. But the big mystery was lying there, staring at them with those cloudy grey eyes, tongue missing, waiting menacingly for them to unravel the story, to try to put together the puzzle of how this girl could be dead, yet perfect and untouched.
In addition, what did she have to do with the other people? Why was she in their house? I studied forensics for a while in college, so I was super ready to watch them solve the mystery! Honestly, I’m not sure the movie completely answered all the questions, but was as close as they could get. It was one of those movies where we start talking to the screen early on and tell them, “Get out now! Before it’s too late!” But they never listen, do they?
Directed by André Øvredal, known for the campy movie ‘Troll Hunters’, I think ‘The Autopsy of Jane Doe’ took audiences by surprise. The movie literally unfolds along with the autopsy itself. An unmoving actress becomes the center of the whole film. Our Jane Doe reveals a new scary detail at every cut and crack of the autopsy process. As the tension in the morgue builds, so does the storm outside and the creepy happenings inside the house. The autopsy itself and what they discover becomes the main story.
Not wanting to give out too much info and spoil it, I can’t really say what they find, but this is definitely a story of hate and revenge. There are a couple of sub stories within that are never completely fleshed out (yes, pun intended). Young Austin was planning to leave his father’s business and hadn’t told him yet, and he has a cute girlfriend who gets to see the dark place where Austin works for her first and last time. There was also a short mention of Mom dying a few years ago, and Dad’s pet name for her. I guess that had something to do with the creepy music we hear over the radio. I did love the story about why one of the bodies in the morgue had a bell on its foot, of course knowing we would have to see that foot (or hear it) soon enough.
The Autopsy of Jane Doe was a pretty great movie for me. I recommend it as one of my favorites from 2016.
The acting by Emile Hirsch and Brian Cox was well done and very believable. The inside of a morgue was an awesome and perfect location for a horror film. It might be a bit hard for some people to watch. The realism of the autopsy was never skimped on. There were a couple of things I felt didn’t add to the story, and the ending was a little bit unresolved. But overall, I think we will be seeing more movies from André Øvredal.
This was Øvredal’s first English language film and his vision of this simple story by Ian Goldberg and Richard Naing really came to life, even if the main character was just lying there dead. The movie kept my interest throughout, kept me on the edge for the most part, and left me wanting to find out what was next for our Jane Doe. I don’t think any movie can ask for more than that from their audience.
One final thing that I’ve mentioned in other reviews, is it really necessary to kill a cat in every story? I see it in quite a few movies. It was a sad scene, but it didn’t really carry the story forward and could have just not been there at all. Just my feelings… I could be wrong.