The Autopsy of Jane Doe premiered at the Toronto Film Festival on September 9, 2016 and came out in the United States on December 21, 2016. Here in Europe, this straight-up horror hasn’t been released yet, but I’ve been able to watch it anyway. No, I can’t give away my sources, sorry.
Directed by André Øvredal, the Norwegian talent behind Trollhunters (2010) and starring Emile Hirsch and Brian Cox, The Autopsy of Jane Doe seem to have triggered many European horror fans, who can’t wait for this movie to come out in their local theatres. And I’m so very happy to give you an intel on it in advance, which is also the reason why I’m going to avoid any single and tiniest spoiler.
Let’s dive in, then. After a family is brutally murdered under mysterious circumstances in a typical American house, police comes over to investigate and an unidentified corpse of a woman is found half-buried in the basement. The dead body is transported to the crematorium of coroners Tommy Tilden (Brian Cox) and his son Austin (Emile Hirsch) for them to figure out the COD (cause of death) by the morning after. Simple as that.
As a set-up, I actually didn’t mind it at all. Not every single flick has to be complex and convoluted to be enjoyable. Just look at The Shining!
Furthermore, The Autopsy of Jane Doe benefits from a well-crafted, dreadfully claustrophobic location, which consists of the creepy hallways of the crematorium and its narrow, dark rooms.
Yet, Brian Cox’s performance was quite convincing and he was provided with enough backstory for the audience to care for him.
Unfortunately, the pros of this movie end here. For the most part, there’s nothing memorable about this film which, despite not relying too much on jump-scares (thumbs up), falls into all the expected clichés of the genre. Indeed, the only two or three jump-scares featured in this flick are fake ones, which personally I find very distractive, if not even frustrating.
Moreover, unlike Mr. Cox, Hirsch performance is formulaic and dull, which is a shame considering what the guy has been able to achieve through his performance in Into the Wild (one of my favourite movies of all time).
Here, though, his presence doesn’t serve any purpose other than representing the believer-type-of-character, whereas his dad Brian is the sceptical one.
Nonetheless, what makes me feel very indifferent towards The Autopsy of Jane Doe is the absence of guts (metaphorically speaking). This movie doesn’t take the risk and so falls shorts from every point of view: every horror cliché is basically copy-pasted from other flicks to this one. Also, despite running for only 86 minutes, The Autopsy of Jane Doe gets boring at times and drags more than I would have liked it to do.
All in all, I didn’t expect much from this movie, although the synopsis and the idea at its core started to grow on me during the first 20-30 minutes of the movie. Unfortunately, what followed was quite bland, unoriginal and disappointing, which is a shame. Cheers!