My enjoyment of the newer horror film from Troll Hunter director André Øvredal, The Autopsy of Jane Doe can be split evenly down the middle. I loved, absolutely loved the beginning half of the film. The mystery of the unnamed body and what secrets keep being unearthed during the autopsy was enthralling and kept my eyes glued to the screen. The second half, unfortunately, is where my interested started to wane as the standard horror cliches took over and I had a feeling of been there done that. There are chills to be had with those later scenes, for sure, as newbie horror fans will probably get a fright out to them, but I feel like I’ve seen them all before.
It’s just another night at the morgue for a father (Brian Cox) and son (Emile Hirsch) team of coroners, until an unidentified, highly unusual corpse comes in. Discovered buried in the basement of the home of a brutally murdered family, the young Jane Doe-eerily well preserved and with no visible signs of trauma-is shrouded in mystery. As they work into the night to piece together the cause of her death, the two men begin to uncover the disturbing secrets of her life. Soon, a series of terrifying events make it clear: this Jane Doe may not be dead.
The Autopsy of Jane Doe grabs you from the start with a murder mystery and a strange naked body buried in dirt. The body, only known as Jane Doe is transferred to the local morgue, where morgue technicians Tommy (Brian Cox) and his son Austin (Emile Hirsch) begin to unravel the mystery of the body. As they find stranger and stranger things on and in the body, the night transforms into a horrifying nightmare of cadavers come to life and hallucinations aplenty. Is Jane Doe causing this ghostly occurrence and if so, why?
The Autopsy of Jane Doe is the type of film that throws a bunch of theories your way as to what is happening and lets you decide how you see the film played out. There are plenty of interesting fan theories out there, and I have to say, my enjoyment of the film hinders on whether or not some of those theories are true or not. I don’t believe director André Øvredal has come out and said whether certain things are true or false, but if it turns out that the deeply hidden theories are just smoke in the air, I will be deeply disappointed.
The reason I will be deeply disappointed is that the film turns into a lacklustre horror film with one too many clichés filling the screen during the second half of the flick.
Even though I come off like I’m bitching about the movie and I didn’t like it, that is not entirely accurate. The first part of the film is so damn engaging; I can somewhat forgive the movie’s later choices. Nevertheless, had they decided to stick with the mysterious scientific investigation into what happened and tried not to go down such a well travelled route of horror, the film would have come out way better than it already is.
Raven Banner has released The Autopsy of Jane Doe in Canada on a very nice Blu-ray package. We have a lovely slip cover for slip cover fans and an interesting sleeve of artwork I’ve never seen before. The video and audio presentation is high quality, which isn’t very surprising given this is a newer film. The audio, in particular, is quite loud, and I found myself turning it down lest I wake up the entire neighbourhood.
As for the special features, we have some Q&A sessions with the cast and crew that took place at the Toronto Internation Film Festival. The quality of the video and audio on the Q&A sessions are a bit on the weak side, and you’ll probably find yourself cranking the volume back up if you decide to watch these features. Rounding everything out is a short film titled The Tunnel by director André Øvredal, and finally some trailers for the film and other Raven Banner releases.
After my first showing of The Autopsy of Jane Doe, I was undecided in my opinion of the film. I just loved the beginning so much, but the latter half threads such familiar waters, it left a sour taste in my mouth. However, after seeing the film again and letting it stew in my brain for a bit, I can finally say that I do enjoy the film and I think if you want to own it on Blu-ray in Canada, the Raven Banner release is the way to go.
- Slipcover art with alternative “Eye” art
- Andre Ovredal’s award-winning The Tunnel short film (12 mins) – “A family is caught in slow-moving traffic with the hope of making it home safely in this stunningly dark science-fiction tale.”
- TIFF Midnight Madness Q&A
- LA premiere Q&A with Emile Hirsch