The Autopsy Of Jane Doe (A Night Of Horror & Monster Fest)
Emile Hirsch, Brian Cox, Olwen Kelly, Ophelia Lovibond
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…an effective and engaging mystery with some unexpected twists and turns…
The Autopsy Of Jane Doe is the first English language film from André Øvredal, the Norwegian director who helmed the engaging fantasy/horror hybrid flick, Trollhunter. Unsurprisingly, it’s pretty damn weird, but happily it works rather well for the most part.
The premise is quite elegant. After police find a seemingly undamaged, strangely beautiful, unnamed female corpse in a shallow grave in a house full of murder victims, they deliver the body to father-and-son coroners, Tommy (Emile Hirsch) and Austin Tilden (Brian Cox). The experienced pair begin the four stages of the autopsy, with Austin quizzing his son on what each new discovery means, but it doesn’t take long before it’s clear that there’s something very different about the body of Jane Doe (Olwen Kelly).
What follows is a strange combination of locked-room mystery and supernatural thriller, with the former more successfully delivered than the latter. The first half of the film is particularly effective, with the queasily graphic autopsy providing a unique and mesmerising storytelling conceit. The film’s second half becomes a much more traditional concern, and while effective and tense at times, it doesn’t quite live up to the promise of the premise. That said, Øvredal delivers a stylish story, with creepy Carpenter-esque sequences, and the performances by Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch lend the increasingly kooky shenanigans some gravitas. Ultimately, The Autopsy Of Jane Doe is an effective and engaging mystery with some unexpected twists and turns and an ending you almost certainly won’t see coming.