The Autopsy of Jane Doe unleashes claustrophobic terror and mystery.
The Autopsy of Jane Doe is a supernatural mystery horror that for the most part takes place in a claustrophobic morgue where a supernatural entity haunts a father and son. With a very tensed atmosphere and great mystery, the suspense is built in a very clever way, by fleshing out the relationship between the two men. The horror is present at a visceral level, with only strange occurrences to shape the supernatural elements. This results in a very intriguing and thrilling watch with also some drama to give body to the overall story.
It’s a film that is best to watch while knowing as little as possible about it. This review contains no spoilers.
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When at a violent and gruesome crime scene also a body of a young woman is discovered, that is unscratched, the sheriff takes the body to the morgue of Tommy and Austin to perform an autopsy. But a storm is coming and when father and son start examining the body they get locked up inside, while strange occurrences take place that all have something to do with the body. They have to figure out who she is before it’s too late.
Why you should watch it
The Autopsy of Jane Doe has a very simple but smart and original premiss that is excellently executed. It only centers around father Tommy and his son Austin, their relationship and the mystery of the body that they have to unravel before it’s too late. Their relationship is fleshed out in a very sincere way, without becoming sentimental or too dramatic. This also has a strong connection with the body, or at least the decisions to be made about that body. Both Tommy’s wife and the body were unscratched at the surface but both hid something inside, either figuratively or literally. That connection is very strong and emotionally charged and an intense theme and motif of the film that forms a strong foundation for the storyline, as the bond between Tommy and Austin does for the film on an emotional level.
The mystery unfolds slowly, but at a very pleasant pace. The body itself is where they find the clues that they have to put together like a puzzle. But slowly this examination turns into a nightmare. Closed in by the storm causing something to block the entrance, the claustrophobic feel is enhanced. The morgue is underground with no windows and it therefore feels all the more closed off from the world. That is fuel for a spooky atmosphere that is made excellent use of by cinematography, the shots in the mirrors, the spooky lighting in the hallways that remind of gaslights, which is also enhanced by the art deco style of the interior. The setting and cinematography create a whole separate vibe and feeling that put Tommy and Austin in a space or dimension whole of their own.
Tommy and Austin are completely dependent of each other to survive the night while the clues of the body must be solved to stop the supernatural threats. But this is also an opportunity for them to make amends with past happenings, the death of Tommy’s wife and Austin’s mother and to deepen their bond. Their bond is a strong element in the film, which makes both characters very likable and realistic. The film strongly depends and focuses on these two men which works very well to create sympathy but also to increase the tension and the feeling of dread. It’s what they experience and feel, that makes this film thrilling and suspenseful. The supernatural occurrences are very subtle and don’t dominate the screen. The film therefore is a very intimate take on both men and how they handle something very sinister to which they can also relate, which makes it all the more intriguing and enthralling.
My favorite part
I loved how well this film is told. The storytelling is excellent and nothing seems illogical, nor are there filler scenes or plot devices. The film is very focused and even Emma, Austin’s girlfriend with whom he had a date with that night, but instead stays to help Tommy, underscores the relationship between Tommy and Austin and shows that they both are very good people. And her presence is also cause for more thrills.
Thrill factor: ★★★★☆
Scare factor: ★★★☆☆☆
Originality factor: ★★★★☆
Entertainment factor: ★★★★★
Cast and crew
The Autopsy of Jane Doe is directed by André Øverdal and written by Ian Goldberg, Richard Naing. It stars Brian Cox (Tommy), Emile Hirsch (Austin), Ophelia Lovibond (Emma) and Olwen Catherine Kelly (Jane Doe).
Duration: 86 minutes. Music: Danny Bensi, Saunder Jurriaans. Cinematography: Roman Osin. Edited by: Patrick Laasgaard, Peter Gvozdas. Produced by: Fred Berger, Eric Garcia, Ben Pugh, Rory Aitken. Production company: 42, IM Global, Imposter Pictures. Distributed by: IFC Midnight.