When it comes to the horror genre, I am a huge proponent for the classics. From The Exorcist and Halloween to Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street, I generally hold horror movies made in the 1970s and 1980s as the standard for new films in the genre. Consequently, when I watched the trailer for The Autopsy of Jane Doe and saw several aspects that are reminiscent of earlier blockbusters, I knew I was in for a treat.
A gut-wrenching thriller written by Ian Goldberg and Richard Naing and directed by André Øvredal, The Autopsy of Jane Doe tells the story of a father (Brian Cox) and son (Emile Hirsch) who work together in their family-owned morgue. When the unscathed corpse of an unidentified girl (Olwen Kelly) arrives, the two attempt to uncover her cause of death. Strange things begin to occur around the mortuary, and the two quickly realize she is more than just a Jane Doe.
Because the movie only contains a handful of characters, I quickly grew fond of the two who are the most prominent. Cox’s performance as the father, Tommy Tilden, is especially brilliant as he plays an intelligent and experienced coroner who mentors his son, Austin, on the tricks of the trade. Complementing Cox’s role, Hirsch does an excellent job at making the father-son relationship feel authentic.
A particular strength of the film resides in the sinister music and sounds heard throughout its duration. Due to an uncanny and spine-tingling score, suspense is continually heightened with each passing scene. In addition, the movie also effectively uses sounds to its advantage, utilizing simple but chilling noises (such as a radio station and the ring of a bell) to make viewers’ skin crawl.
Most great horror movies have an eerie setting, and the primary location in The Autopsy of Jane Doe definitely qualifies. From the first moments to the concluding scene, an unsettling sensation lurked in my mind because a majority of the film is shot in and around Tilden Morgue and Crematorium. Using long camera shots and other cinematic techniques, the mortuary becomes a location that will inevitably haunt viewers’ thoughts and keep them up at night.
Filled with suspense, jump scares and unexpected frights, The Autopsy of Jane Doe is a contemporary horror movie built with the mechanics of a classic. Despite having an ending that is fairly rushed and abrupt, it is a movie horror fans will undoubtedly enjoy as the story is structured in a way that lets viewers experience the terror alongside the characters of the film; moreover, the visuals, music and sounds used throughout it are both creepy and blood-curdling. I recommend The Autopsy of Jane Doe to those who can stomach a gruesome tale and have awarded it a B-.