By Dave B.
In The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016, currently on Netflix), a father and son coroner duo (played by Brian Cox and Mile Hirsch) are brought a strange case: the body of a young woman is delivered to them by the local police after being found partially buried in a house where a multiple homicide took place. Her body bears no apparent cause of death and as the autopsy unfolds, the pair discover some curious irregularities. Will they be able to solve the mystery of Jane Doe’s death in time to prevent further murders?
The Autopsy of Jane Doe begins as a fascinating forensic procedural, which may initially confuse viewers expecting a “traditional” horror film. As the investigation into the enigma that is Jane Doe deepens, so do the odd occurrences and its during this buildup of tension that the movie really shines. The camerawork, music, and especially the performances by Cox and Hirsch are brilliant throughout the movie, but are particularly strong in its first half. You can literally feel (and share in) their confusion and disbelief as everything that they thought they knew about their profession is proven wrong. The second half of the movie isn’t as strong as the first, but in no way is it bad. It’s just that the story itself becomes less creative as the film enters its homestretch.
That’s a minor quibble however, because The Autopsy of Jane Doe scared the hell out of me. I can’t remember the last time that a horror movie had me so on edge. I almost stopped watching it (and if I wasn’t committed to writing this review, I certainly would have). The combination of the setting (a morgue in the basement of a home in a small town), the growing mystery of discovering what happened to Jane Doe (an extensive autopsy is a great device through which to distract audiences enough to subtly ratchet up stress and tension without them noticing), and the movie’s music (which has unfortunately been stuck in my head all day) had me primed for fight or flight. I was so stressed out after watching this movie that I had a headache for an hour after it was over.
Whatever major flaws that The Autopsy of Jane Doe may have, I’ll certainly never know. I was too scared to notice them and I’ll definitely never watch it again. That said, I HIGHLY recommend this movie to anyone reading this review. It’s not every day that the horror genre offers us something that’s not only terrifying, but also intelligent and creative. If you have even the least bit of interest in horror movies, this is one that you shouldn’t miss.
I have no clue what I'm doing, but I'll keep doing whatever it is to the best of my ability.