Talk about anticipation and expectations for a film – I’ve been wanting to see this ever since I wrote about it in a previous Weakley Film News column. I really like horror films but the genre is so played out. I need more unique films in this genre. What hasn’t been done? Who’s going to give us a new spin on old material? Thankfully, The Autopsy of Jane Doe is exactly that.
A father and son coroner team receives a body of a young woman. What starts out as a typical autopsy, becomes a startling mystery that becomes even more ominous as they discover she hides dark secrets.
I loved the idea when I read about it, and when I found out that Andre’ Ovredal was directing (Trollhunter), I was even more excited. Writers Ian Goldberg and Richard Naing have created a tense, creepy screenplay whose mystery unfolds and we experience it along with the coroners.
I didn’t know where The Autopsy of Jane Doe was going to take me. I stayed away from most trailers and articles about it. It’s actually refreshing to not know much about a film when you see it – let it unfold before you with totally fresh eyes. It’s also a testament to the writing to not see where it’s going to go within the first 30 minutes.
The cast is great; Brian Cox as Tommy Tilden and Emile Hirsch as his son Austin Tilden, make a believable father/son pair. Ophelia Lovibond (I recognized her from Elementary) plays Austin’s girlfriend Emma, and Michael McElhatton plays an anxious-to-get-this-case-solved Sheriff Sheldon.
And most importantly, Olwen Catherine Kelly plays Jane Doe. She is exceptional as a mysterious dead body. Yeah, ok, there isn’t much to do in such a role, yet, every time the camera is on her, one can’t help but be at least a little unnerved.
After a certain point in The Autopsy of Jane Doe, things get really creepy – and with each new find as the Tilden guys progress with the autopsy, it becomes downright scary. It’s an effective horror film and it has the benefit of being unique as well. Keeping the story in one location, letting us get to know these characters, creating atmosphere – it’s all solid and let’s us concentrate on unraveling the mystery of this woman.
And let’s not forget that this is surely not for the squeamish. These guys ARE coroners, after all. I mean, the word “autopsy” is in the damn film title, right? What do you THINK is going to happen? That, of course, means they make a little room for macabre humor.
I certainly recommend The Autopsy of Jane Doe to anyone that loves the horror genre. This is definitely one of the better ones as of late. I’m going with four kittenhands here.
~ Neil T Weakley, your average movie-goer, trying to figure out which Oscar contender film to see first.