A few years ago, I came across a film called ‘Troll Hunter’ and instantly I found myself a fan of it’s originality, not so much a fan of the liberal amounts of CGI that was used (I am much more of a Japanese stunt actor in a rubber godzilla kaiju suit kind’a guy) but it defiantly had a tonne of amazing moments, so when the films director AndrÈ ÿvredal announced he was working on a new project, I couldn’t wait to check it out and Its safe to say that I wasn’t disappointed!
In many ways, The Autopsy Of Jane Doe is the perfect follow up as AndrÈ is now allowed to use all his creativity and directing skill in a much more grounded story which thankfully doesn’t require computer effects to be the centre point of the story.
Austin (Emile Hirsch, the main guy from Into The Wild) is an apprentice Pathologist and along with his father Tommy (Brian Cox, Scottish OG, the original Hannibal Lector in Manhunter, William Wallace’s uncle in Braveheart) run this creepy as hell the family business together.
Not only that, but their autopsy room and body storage facility has been built underneath their house over the past three generations, so it’s the perfect setting for a horror movie.
Imagine a small hospital corridor with a few wards in a basement of someone’s house and you’ve got the idea, Yeah i bet they sleep like a baby every night in that house don’t they…
Anyways, the two of them are just finishing up their last autopsy of the night when the police bring them a new body to examine – with one catch. They are frantically trying to figure out an explanation of what happened to this girl, as they have no idea themselves and need to have some sort of story to tell the press in the morning!
Austin, being the classic good guy son, cancels the plans he has with his girlfriend and he and Tommy get to work on figuring out exactly what has happened to this perfectly preserved female. Needless to say, nothing is what it seems…
Any horror film that can keep you interested while taking place in a single location with a cast comprising of two people examining a body is doing something right, and this is one of the movies strongest points.
The entire first act of the film plays out like a murder mystery trapped within a body and it doesn’t take long for them to realise something isn’t quite right.
The dead girl appears to have shattered ankles and wrist joints with no exterior signs of damage and piece by piece the body is examined and stripped back, with each discovery they make only leading them, and us, the viewer to ask more and more questions…
Both Hirsch and Cox give great performances, equally playing the roles of professionals just there to do their job, detectives trying to get to the bottom of something, and two people who appear to realise they are getting in over their heads more and more as each new revelation of the corpse comes to light. Why has her tongue been cut out? Why is there a flower which is used as a paralysing agent found in her stomach? And why has one of her teeth been wrapped in a cloth which appears to have occult symbols on it? All of these questions however, as strange as they may seem get answered by the time the credits roll.
So is that all that happens? Two guys examine a body and get to the bottom of what happened to it? Not at all. No matter how weird their findings are, that would still just make it a regular old autopsy – and this is no regular autopsy. When the power goes out in the building shutting off the elevator and a tree falls across their only escape hatch, their night has only just begun as they both begin to realise that someone clearly doesn’t want them to carry out this autopsy, and Tommy and Austin soon focus on preventing their own deaths rather than figuring out what was the cause of the girl’s.
The autopsy of Jane Doe is a well written, well directed, well acted and original horror movie that could not come more highly recommend. AndrÈ ÿvredal seems to want to make a point of directing very fresh original material, and I’m looking forward to whatever he conjures up next!
The Autopsy Of Jane Doe will be available on DVD, Blu-Ray and VOD on the 26th June and can be
pre-ordered now from Amazon HERE
Words by BAzebub