THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE presents a deceptively simple - yet calculated story - that relies on atmosphere and artistry. Set in the basement-morgue of a family-run mortuary the film chronicles the autopsy of an unidentified woman labeled as Jane Doe. Her body was discovered at the scene of a gruesome massacre with no identifiable connection to the other deaths. Her body is delivered in an immaculate condition and as the father & son morticians conduct their examination they begin to unravel a mystery that sets their night on a course for unadulterated horror... To reveal more is to deny you the pleasure of experiencing this wonderful film without preconception.
Norwegian director André Øvredal follows up the success of his previous film TROLL HUNTER with this unexpected American flick that sets an example to all young filmmakers of how to utilise recourses in order to conjure an effective movie. Beginning with a one-location script Øvredal embraced a self-contained concept that allowed him the freedom to flex his creativity in a more audacious way than what a larger production would have allowed. With a restless lighting design, a claustrophobic environment and a methodical story-reveal he has exploited just about every trope in the book while slathering on layers of unpredictability and originality. There are moments when the influences are obvious with one particular film coming to mind (click here for that spoiler), and yet beneath the homage lies an unforeseen narrative that will take unsuspecting viewers off guard. This is the definition of excellent filmmaking.
Emile Hirsch and Brian Cox share the lead-billing as the father and son morticians who get more than they bargained for when they take on the strange case of Jane Doe. Both are actors with a proven track record, whose resumes showcase quality and respectability, and having them headline a humble film of this nature adds immeasurable value to it. They give top-notch performances, with Cox's – in particular - being surprising, unexpected and thoroughly convincing.
With an 85-minute running time THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE never outstays its welcome. It is a concise and efficient film that is as equally intriguing as it is terrifying, and if viewed under the right conditions (at night, in the dark, up loud) it is sure to scare the living shit out of anyone who watches it.
The Autopsy of Jane Doe is now available on Blu-Ray & DVD through Umbrella Entertainment.